Douglas Stuart Moore
1940, Douglas Moore, the chairman of the Department of
Music at Columbia University, was retained to prepare
the score for Power and the Land. When Moore
started working on this project in June 1940, he was just
a few months short of turning 47. For over a decade-and-a
half, his vocal and orchestral works had played on the
Douglas Moore was born on August 10, 1893
in Cutchogue, Long Island, the son of Stuart Hall and
Myra (Drake) Moore. He grew up in a well-to-do family,
as one of his biographers Willard Rhodes has noted, surrounded
by “a literary atmosphere.” His father “was
a publisher by profession, and from his mother he absorbed
a love of books and became an omnivorous reader.”
As a result, Moore developed numerous friendships “with
distinguished poets and writers” that “have
been a stimulating and oftimes decisive influence in his
Moore could have followed a brother into
the publishing business, but his inclinations were more
theatrical and musical. As a child, he had been “subjected”
to the private piano lessons typical of fashionable households
of that day. His interest in the stage also dated from
his early childhood. In 1900, Moore, at the age of seven,
with the assistance of his sister and two playmates, presented
a drama entitled “The Bride’s Fate”
in the attic of the Moore home at Cutchogue, Long Island.
The young Moore also used this same space, dubbed “The
Hall Theater,” for lectures, sometimes with the
only audience being a few family servants.
Although his mother had promised he could
drop the piano lessons once he departed for the Hotchkiss
School (Lakeville, Connecticut), Moore was soon involved
in that prep school’s dramatic and musical groups.
He even set some of classmate Archibald MacLeish’s
poems to music. Graduating from the Hotchkiss School in
1911, Moore went on to Yale where he majored in music
and philosophy, participated in student theatrical performances,
and won some local fame by authoring a popular football
song “Good Night Harvard.” After receiving
his B.A. from Yale in 1915, Moore returned to Yale to
undertake graduate studies with Horatio Parker in composition
and with H. B. Jepson in organ. He received his degree
as Bachelor of Music from Yale in 1917.
From 1917-1919, Moore served as a lieutenant
j.g. in the United States Navy. After service at the Naval
Academy, and then sea duty chasing German submarines,
Moore was assigned to US Naval Headquarters in Paris.
After being demobilized in 1919, he spent two years in
Paris studying composition under Vincent d’Indy
at the Schola Cantorum. In 1921, he became Assistant Curator
of Music and Organist at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Here he continued his studies, this time under Ernest
Bloch, then musical director of the Cleveland Institute
of Music. Named Curator of the Cleveland Museum of Art
in 1922, Moore played a number of leading roles on the
stage in association with the Cleveland Playhouse, a semi-professional
stock company. His performances were very well received.
While in Cleveland, the prolific Moore
also authored Four Museum Pieces, a four-part
organ work. In 1924, he composed The Pageant of P.
T. Barnum, performed by the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra
in 1925. According to his biographer, Moore’s Pageant
of P.T. Barnum “marks a significant departure
from the European refinement and tradition of the Museum
Pieces.” In 1925, Moore, at the suggestion
of Columbia University Music Professor Daniel Gregory
Mason, transcribed his Four Museum Pieces, originally
written for organ, for symphony orchestra. Presented in
this form by the Cleveland Orchestra in Cleveland and
New York, Four Museum Pieces won for Moore a
$1,500 Pulitzer Prize traveling scholarship in 1925. Resigning
his position as Curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art,
Moore studied counterpoint under Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
Attempting to develop his own independent musical style,
Moore, according to his biographer Willard Rhodes, rejected
Boulanger’s recommendations of Stravinsky or Faure
as models for composition.