Our Radio Show and blog celebrates the life of Maurice Levine, American Conductor, teacher, arranger, producer, director, writer for television and the theater. Also included is a video and article on how a conductor and his orchestra teach teamwork to executives . Our article of the month is “Even Monsters Need Love” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM
Radio Show Feature Question for February 2018:
How did Classical Music play a part of Maurice Levine’s life as an American Conductor, teacher, producer, director, writer for television and theater, and what musical instrument did he play?
Morris (Maurice) Levine was born on January 11,1918 in New Haven, Connecticut. His parents were immigrants from Vilna, Lithuania, Russia. He was the youngest of five sons. When he was three and a half years old his parents bought a farm outside of Norwich, Connecticut, (Patcheque), where his father tilled the soil with horses, milked the cows, and raised chickens working “dusk to dawn”. He says, “My father was no more geared for farming”. His family left the farm before he was 5 years old. He fondly remembered the farm. He said, “all the greenery, the trees, the grass, the meadow, the brooks.” Then they moved to West Haven, Connecticut.
Lessons learned on how to study from the violin:
He began studying the violin when he was 9. When he was 11, he began studying violin with a new teacher, Mr. Alfonso Cavalaro, 23 years old and about to graduate from Yale School of Music. Morris said Mr. Cavalaro taught him “that you have to be able to analyze your problem.” Then you asked yourself the following questions: “What it is you want to do? What is it you can’t yet do? What can you get out of your present knowledge that can help you achieve your goal?” Mr. Cavalaro “would naturally, guide me in various exercises and examples of how to get there, then I would practice along those lines during that week.”
Maurice Levine interviewed by Vivian W. Siegal, April 20, 1990 from digital collections of the New York Public Library.
After graduating high school attended Yale School of Music & Tanglewood:
After high school, he went to Yale School of Music and in 1940 “was accepted for the first charter class at Tanglewood.” His teachers were Composer Paul Hindemith and conductor Serge Koussevitsky and his classmate was Leonard Bernstein. He received a Bachelor and Masters’ degree from Yale School of music.
World War II:
He was then “drafted into the army in World War II. Levine wound up producing shows for the troops at Chanute Field, Illinois.” Maurice said,” It was a great arrangement. Major Glenn Miller was my superior. I learned on the job and became a combination of Billy Rose (the showman) and James Petrillo (the tyrannical head of the musicians’ union.)”
At a classical concert that he conducted at Chanute Field “the Hillel director at the University of Illinois and his wife” attended. Maurice said, “They were delighted to find that the army conductor was Jewish. The wife, Leah Silverman, said to me: “My father is music director at the 92nd Street Y in New York. If you’re ever interested in a job there, look me up.”
After WWII, he said, “I taught for a while at Yale Music School and moved to Manhattan to try “to crack into showbiz.” This is when he “changed his first name of Morris into the more-prestigious Maurice. After he became famous, some of Levine’s friends still called him Morris, but mostly they addressed him as Moish.”
First Job in NYC:
When he was unable find a “job on Broadway, he looked up Leah Silverman who introduced him to her father, the composer and conductor A. W. Binder who was head of the Y’s music programs. Binder hired him as a part-time conductor in 1947, and then Levine created his big breakthrough.”
Telephone Information: Conducting on Broadway
Maurice Levine said, “I loved the music of Kurt Weill, so I dialed information and asked for his phone number, and – would you believe it? – he was listed. So, I called him and asked if I could conduct the New York premiere of his folk opera, Down in the Valley. Well, he said, it was already promised to someone else, but would I like to conduct a concert version of his opera Street Scene? You bet I would! So, without any real credentials, I conducted it in February 1949. Weill came to rehearsals and to the performance and he took a liking to me.”
Maurice Levine: “Weill was 48, I was 29. He looked at me as kind of a kid brother. Weill was sweet, kind, soft-spoken. And then he invited me to conduct his newest composition, Lost in the Stars, for its Broadway opening. I couldn’t believe it myself. I was thrilled beyond words. On opening night, he gave me a wallet and a note: ‘Maurice, I’ll keep writing them, and you’ll conduct them.’ How was anyone to know that a few months later he’d be dead of a heart attack?”
Working for Weill opened the door for Levine to conduct on Broadway for Oscar Hammerstein revival of “Music In The Air “, and with Yip Harburg and Barbara Cook – on “Flahooley”. For Columbia, he conducted two albums sung by Lotte Lenya of Weill songs and another album with Leonard Warren, baritone at the Metropolitan Opera. At Madison Square Gardens, between 1958 and 1971, he conducted and was “director of fund raising” for Chanukah Concerts with stars Richard Tucker, Roberta Peters, Jan Peerce and others.
Billy Rose Foundation:
The 92ndY in 1969 was offered a $5000 grant by the Billy Rose Foundation “to do a series on American lyric writers. It was a subject dear” to Rose, who was a lyricist, showman, and philanthropist. Hadassah Markson, the director of music at the Y was the younger daughter of Binder who died in 1966. When she first asked Maurice Levine about doing a show on American lyricists he said no. Then he reconsidered it after talking to Yip Harburg (Wizard of Oz). Maurice said, “I spoke to Yip and he told me so many good stories that I thought, if the audience is half as excited by this as I am, we’ll have a hit.”
Maurice Levine began “Lyrics and Lyricist” in 1970. He was the host and artistic director. The show examined “the art of theater song through the words of their creators” with the composers of the music sharing how they wrote their songs. Well-known singers Levine’s wife, singer Bobbi Baird, Bob Lang and others would sing on these programs.
Maurice Levine said, ‘‘we try to give an impression of who the person is, what he stood for and what he tried to accomplish, along with a certain amount of musicology and music history. I’m at heart a teacher. But I never give anyone a lecture. I inform people entertainingly!”
Recordings of “Lyric and Lyricists”.
In 1977 Levine and Richard Seader, began a recording company to issue albums of live programs from Lyric and Lyricists. Also, video programs were made of the live shows aired on CBS cable through 1981. Some of the programs were “Lyric and Lyricists” for “An Evening With Alan Jay Lerner, …With Johnny Mercer, … With Jerry Herman, …With Sammy Cahn, …With Kander & Ebb, …With Sheldon Harnick…With Dorothy Field” and many others.
Lyric & Lyricists Archives recordings can be heard through the library of congress link below:
The lyrics tell the story of a song.
Levine said about these programs: “I’m at heart a teacher. But I never give anyone a lecture. I inform people entertainingly!”
Maurice Levine as Conductor and Teacher at the 92ndY Workshop Orchestra for over 40 years:
While I was a student at the Juilliard School, my friend and fellow student at Juilliard, Liz (Elizabeth), Hubley from Canada, (married name Macmillan), a wonderfully talented violinist and Concertmaster of the 92nd Y Workshop Orchestra invited me to audition for Maurice Levine, Conductor of the orchestra as there was an opening for Principal viola. I auditioned and won the job. Maurice Levine was an inspiring and motivating conductor with a clear beat and boundless energy to impart the composers’ wishes. He taught us the classic orchestra literature and Broadway theater music. He brought in singers for rehearsals and concerts like Eartha Kitt. He also had his principal players play solos /concertos with the orchestra. I played the Bloch Suite for viola and orchestra one year and the Walton Viola Concerto for viola and orchestra the next year.
Conductor Maurice Levine would arrive by taxi, to pick me up for rehearsal and on the way to orchestra rehearsal he had me sing my viola solo as he conducted from the score of orchestra. By the time we reached the 92nd Y between 91st-92nd street on Lexington Avenue, we had rehearsed all three movements of the Walton Concerto. Conductor Levine had marked all the tempos to be ready for rehearsal with his orchestra, the 92nd Y Workshop Orchestra. When we arrived at the orchestra rehearsal Conductor Levine began working patiently teaching the concerto to the orchestra as I played the solo part with them.
Concert Narrations for Shows: Maurice Levine wrote the concert version narrations for the shows “Of Thee I Sing” and “Let `Em Eat Cake” in 1987 for the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Maurice Levine died on Sep. 8, 1997 at 79 years old. He was an American Conductor, teacher, producer, director, writer for television and theater, leader, host and artistic director of “Lyric and Lyricists”, husband, father, and grandfather and a lifelong musician. Maurice Levine said, “I’m at heart a teacher. But I never give anyone a lecture. I inform people entertainingly!” He informed and educated 1000s of students, professional musicians, and the public during his life time.
“Even Monsters Need Love” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM
Every living thing needs love. There is no substitute for love.
My husband and I recently saw the off-Broadway play in New York City “Frankenstein: A New Musical”. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote her story of “Frankenstein” in 1816 during a cold, wet, and dreary summer. She was with her husband Percy Shelley, the poet, and George Byron their friend. The Frankenstein Musical adds to the story with the music of Eric B. Sirota, Ph.D., composer, playwright, physicist, and research scientist. Dr. Sirota saw the short-lived Frankenstein on Broadway in 1981 and said “I re-read the book and heard the story sing in my head as a musical.”
As I was watching “Frankenstein: A New Musical” unfold, I saw the creator, Dr. Frankenstein, view the creature he had created in his own image, with horror and fright. He wanted the creature gone!
Dr. Frankenstein did not welcome his new creation, as one would welcome their new baby with love, hugs, kisses, and smiles. When new babies are born they have only “blank pages”! My Mom always said, “Be careful what you write on them!”
Dr. Frankenstein was immediately fearful of his creature from the first time it got off the table from underneath the sheet draped over him.
“The creature” from the beginning of his life saw only “fear” in the eyes of his creator.
Dr. Frankenstein wanted “the creature” to go away and he did. It fled! From that moment on, when people came in contact with him, they were frightened when they looked at his face. He felt frightened and threatened. He protected himself by killing the person that threatened him!
It didn’t have to be like this! If Dr. Frankenstein had “loved and hugged” his creation from the start, the creature’s life would have been different!
Love makes all the difference in the world to others!
If the creature had been loved, hugged, and cared for from it’s first moment of life, like a newborn, he would have been happy, content and sure of himself.
Love makes all the difference!
As a small child, I always remember my Momma smiling, hugging, and kissing me. No matter what happened in my young life, I knew she loved me and I mattered to her. She spent time with me and I knew she cared!
The creature never received the caring he needed from his creator, Dr. Frankenstein! If it had instead been loved, his face would have looked better. He might have even looked handsome with the scars. When we are loved hugged kissed, and cared for, we are happier people who care about and can love others also.
Every person, even a monster, needs someone to love and care for them. If they feel love, they are happy, they can smile, and their faces change, becoming even beautiful when they are not!
If you look in the mirror and change your frown into a smile you look 100% better! Try it! When we are loved we look better, feel better, and are happier!
In all of life we have a choice. Give others love, hugs, and care for them or make them terrified and afraid of us just like “the creature”.
Think of classic bullies in literature like Shakespeare’s character Iago in the play “Othello” and Darth Vader in the movie “Star Wars”. These men became bullies because they were “unloved and uncared for!
By being loved and cared for, the picture changes inside of us, whether we are a person, a monster, or an animal.
Everyone living thing needs love!
Love makes the deference!
There is no substitute for love!
Former NFL Football player, Bill Glass, for many years had a ministry in prisons. After talking with thousands of men in prisons individually he said, “He had never talked to a man in prison that truly loved their father. Most of them hated their fathers and they took out their hatred on themselves, drugs and alcohol, and the rest of society.”
Ninety three percent of these inmates had these feelings.
Zig Ziegler says, through history and today, “the Jewish father says to his son, whether the boy is three years old, thirty years old, or sixty years old he is still a son.”
Step one: “Bless you my son.”
Step two: “I love you my son.”
Step three: “Then he gives his son a big ol’ hug and in many cases, all of their lives, a big ol’ kiss.”
Many other cultures give this devotion as well.
For this New Year, what one thing can you do to make the world a better place for you, your family, friends, your family pets and others?
Show others you care by smiling, loving, hugging, and spending time with them to show your care and how special they are to you!
Say something nice to them. Make them feel welcome.
Love them and hold them tight. Lift them up. Don’t drag them down! Show them love, respect, and appreciation.
Be like Mother Theresa not like Darth Vader! Love others.
To contact Madeline for your next speaking engagement: [email protected]
“What Orchestras Can Teach Executives About Conducting Business” (Jan. 4, 2018) by Judy Woodruff from PBS News Hour. “Corporate executives are getting a lesson in leadership and communication from the conductor’s podium thanks to the Music Paradigm, a program that trains business leaders in the fine art of teamwork.”
“The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is available in book form, and newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook:
Barnes and Noble(Nook)
“Musical Notes On Math” by Dr. Madeline Frank teaches your child fractions and decimals, the fun way, through the rhythm of music, Winner of the Parent To Parent Adding Wisdom Award is available in book form, newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook.
Barnes and Noble(Nook)
Tips on how to use “Musical Notes On Math”
Madeline’s Midnight Melodies- Music From around the World” . This CD complements her books with a blend of dance music, gigues, tangos, ballet and favorites including “Danny Boy”, Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro”, Debussy’s “Claire De Lune” and others. “Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” is music to relax by and to move by for music therapy. ”Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” CD is now available for purchase by downloading a song, downloading the album, or by CD by clicking below:
Download Your Copy Today!
Dr. Madeline Frank’s book “Leadership on a Shoestring Budget” is available through amazon. To order your copy of “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” as an e-book on Kindle click on the following link:
Wishing you and your family a Happy Valentine’s Day from your Non-Invasive Medicine…Music Expert, Madeline
For over 30 years, Dr. Madeline Frank has helped children and adults overcome problems through Classical music. Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM is an award-winning teacher, author, researcher, speaker, conductor, and concert artist. She has found a scientific link between studying and/or listening to musical instruments and academic and societal success. Madeline Frank earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. Her education has included scholarships at the Juilliard School, Indiana University, and the University of Cincinnati and she has a violin performance diploma from the North Carolina School of the Arts. (C) 2018 Madeline Frank.