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I'm An American -- Walter Damrosch

Recorded Sound | Digitized | RG Number: RG-91.0039

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    On December 23, 1940 Walter Damrosch discussed with Alexander Holtzoff, Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice, how music complements democracy. The famed conductor shares with listeners his family’s immigration story. Damrosch claims music is an universal language that can create a brotherhood. He uses Christmas music as an example of uplifting the spirits of people in war-torn countries. Holzoff refers to America as “a composite of nations.” Damrosch agrees and mentions many different Christmas songs can be heard across the country in various languages. The composer states his music is democratic because he plays for everyone regardless of class. He states the radio was the greatest invention for democracy because of its ability to reach people in far lands. Damrosch tells Holtzoff that he wants to teach people that they can work together, like an orchestra.

    Walter Damrosch (b. Walter Johannes Damrosch) was born January 30, 1862 in Breslau (now Wroclaw), Poland to a prestigious musical family. His father, Leopold Damrosch, was a distinguished German composer and conductor who began training his sons at an early age in music. Damrosch immigrated to New York with his family when he was 9. He continued his musical training under his father. In 1884, he was appointed Assistant Conductor for the all-German season at the Metropolitan Opera by his father. Damrosch made his opera debut at 22 in February 1885. After his father’s death, the musician assumed conductorship of his father’s founded musical societies and orchestras (the New York Symphony Society, the Ontario Society of New York, and the Metropolitan Opera Company). Damrosch founded the Damrosch Opera Company in 1894, which became of the Metropolitan Opera Company’s biggest rival. He served as musical consultant for NBC and produced a music appreciation radio series for children from 1924 to 1942. The Library of Congress credits Walter Damrosch with promoting and disseminating American music.
    Broadcast:  1940 December 23

    Physical Details

    Radio broadcasts.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    This archival media can only be accessed in a Museum reading room or other on-campus viewing stations.
    NBC Universal
    Conditions on Use
    Contact NBC Universal at for permission to duplicate and use this film or sound recording.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    United States.

    Administrative Notes

    Recorded Sound Provenance
    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum purchased digital copies of these sound recordings from the Library of Congress in March 2018.
    Recorded Sound Notes
    More information about Walter Damrosch:

    More information about I’M AN AMERICAN:
    Recorded Sound Source
    Library of Congress - Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (MBRS)
    File Number
    Source Archive Number: RWB 7518 A1
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 07:27:19
    This page:

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