Douglas Stuart Moore (August 10, 1893 – July 25, 1969) was an American composer, educator, and author. He wrote music for the theater, film, ballet and orchestra. He is best known for his folk operas The Devil and Daniel Webster (1938) and The Ballad of Baby Doe (1956).
Moore was born in Cutchogue, Long Island, New York. His ancestors were among the first colonial English settlers to Long Island, NY. Moore was an alumnus of the Fessenden School, Hotchkiss School, and Yale University. Moore earned two degrees from Yale University, a B.A. in 1915, and a B.Mus in 1917.
In 1921, Moore was hired as Director of Music at the Cleveland Museum of Art, during which he continued to study with Ernest Bloch, then at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Moore also performed in plays at The Cleveland Play House. He made his debut as a composer and conductor in 1923, conducting his Four Museum Pieces with the Cleveland Orchestra.
In 1926, Moore joined the music faculty at Columbia University. He worked there for the rest of his career, retiring from academia in 1962. In 1954 he was a co-founder, with Otto Luening and Oliver Daniel, of the CRI (Composers Recordings, Inc.) record label.
Apart from classical compositions, Moore also composed several popular songs while at Yale, together with poet and Hotchkiss School mate Archibald MacLeish, and later in collaboration with John Jacob Niles. He wrote the Yale fight song "Goodnight, Harvard"'. These songs were later published in 1921 under the collective title Songs my Mother never taught Me. He later collaborated with fellow Yale alumnus Stephen Vincent Benet on the folk opera The Devil and Daniel Webster (1938), who had adapted it from his 1936 novel.
Moore wrote two books on music, Listening to Music (1932) and From Madrigal to Modern Music (1942).
He was a member from 1941 of the National Institute and American Academy of Arts and Letters. He served as President from 1953 - 1956.
This section's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (April 2017)
During the course of his career, Moore developed a highly personal musical language. It was basically romantic and richly tonal, with strong links to American folk music.
Moore is sometimes viewed as a conservative mainly because he tended to resist influence of the various musical vogues that arose, and ultimately fell, during his life. His chosen style was what some regard as "typically American" i.e. based on American folk music, though Moore never used any authentic folk tunes but rather created his own (much like Gustav Holst or Manuel de Falla in Europe). Vachel Lindsay had helped create this style in the twenties.
Moore was also influenced by jazz and ragtime, developed by African Americans. This is most readily apparent in his operas. The Ballad of Baby Doe has several rag elements (a honky-tonk piano is used extensively in the first scene). In his "soap opera" Gallantry (1950), the commercials for Lochinvar soap and Billy Boy wax are sung in a blueslike fashion. The allegretto from his second symphony has been described as having an almost neoclassical style.
Douglas Moore's music has been described as having a "modesty, grace and tender lyricism", especially marking the slower passages of many works, especially his Symphony in A major and the clarinet quintet. The faster movements of these works have "robust, jovial and a somewhat terpsichorean quality." Most of Moore's energy was devoted to music for opera rather than to orchestral works.
He composed eight operas, mostly on American subjects. The novel Giants in the Earth was written by a Norwegian American and first published in Norwegian in 1921-1922. Moore composed music after the 1927 English translation of this work about Scandinavian settlers on the Great Plains was adapted as an opera. He won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Music for this work.
- Twelfth Night, incidental music (1927)
- Greek Games, ballet (1930)
- White Wings, chamber opera (1935)
- The Headless Horseman, operetta (1936)
- The Devil and Daniel Webster, folk opera (1939)
- Giants in the Earth, opera (1949–50, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1951)
- The Ballad of Baby Doe, opera (1956)
- Gallantry, a "soap opera" (1958)
- The Wings of the Dove, opera (1961), based on 1902 eponymous novel by Henry James
- Carry Nation, opera (1966)
- Four Museum Pieces (1923)
- The Pageant of P.T. Barnum, suite (1924)
- Moby Dick, symphonic poem (1928)
- A Symphony of Autumn (1928–30)
- Overture on an American Tune (1932)
- Village Music, suite (1941)
- In memoriam (1943)
- Down East suite, also arranged for violin and piano (1944)
- Symphony No. 2 in A major (1945)
- Farm Journal, suite (1947)
- Cotillion Suite (1952)
- Violin sonata (1929)
- String quartet (1933)
- Quintet for woodwinds and horn (1942)
- Quintet for clarinet and strings (1946)
- Piano trio (1953)
- Power in the Land (1940, material later used for Farm Journal in 1947)
- Youth Gets a Break (1940)
- Bip Goes to Town (1941)
- Power for the Parkinsons (2009)
- New York Times obituary
- The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Columbia University Press, 2000
- A Century of Arts & Letters, The History of the National Institute of Arts & Letters and the American Academy of Arts & Letters as Told, Decade by Decade, by Eleven Members, John Updike, Editor, pp. 118, 136 and 137, Columbia University Press, New York, 1998