Howard Hanson's vision of a musical America

Howard Hanson would have loved NPR's From the Top. 

He was a passionate educator.

In 1996, musicians all over the world paid tribute to Howard Hanson in celebration of his 100th birth anniversary. 

But whether he’s more important as an educator or as a composer is still up in the air.

By taking Hanson’s only opera to Carnegie Hall this spring, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is reigniting that debate.  The RPO’s Carnegie Hall Spring For Music Festival performance—coming up on May 7, 2014—will feature a concert performance of Howard Hanson’s only opera Merry Mount, which was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and written while he was director of the Eastman School. 

Hanson’s influence began in 1924 when Kodak founder George Eastman installed him as the director of the then-new Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Hanson led the school for 40 years until his retirement in 1964. He was an unabashed romantic and cited Edvard Grieg and Jean Sibelius as his main influences.

In the podcast below, excerpted from a documentary first aired on NPR in October of 1996, you’ll hear Hanson himself explaining his vision for America’s cultural life.