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Why radio works: As quiet as the veterans it honored, On A Note of Tiumph celebrates its 62nd anniversary May 11, 2007

Posted by William Spear in >> News, >> Out Basket, >> Radio Drama.

On May 8, 1945, as World War Two ended in Europe, Norman Corwin directed and produced On a Note of Triumph. Mr. Corwin wrote the script over a several month period in preparation of the occasion.

Sixty-two years later, it remains this country’s pinnacle of radio drama.

On A Note of Triumph is at once a reverential monument to the servicemen and servicewomen of World War Two, a chronicle of the war and events leading up to it, a ledger detailing the magnitude and scope of the fighting, and painful calculation of the loss of humanity and devastating economic costs.

As graceful as the war was brutal, On A Note of Triumph is a mosaic of voices telling stories that every American understood. Interspersed with Bernard Herrmann’s soundtrack that evokes emotions ranging from sorrow to muted celebration, the performance, and subsequent encores, soars.

Consider the following from the Program Details on Norman Corwin’s website:

“… a vast announcement, a terrific interrogatory, one of the all-time great American poems.” — Poet Carl Sandburg

“Once in a decade, something comes down the pike that is so good it deserves to belong, not to its creator, or to its sponsor, but to the people. Last week, radio had just such a something. ‘On A Note Of Triumph’ was the single greatest — and we use ‘greatest’ in its full meaning — radio program we ever heard. It is so fine a document of the whys and wherefores, the causes and effects, the results and cravings of this war, that it should be played each morning for the delegates of the World Security conference now conclaved at San Francisco. Everyone should hear it once every six months for the next decade. Then, maybe we will not forget, and then, maybe we’ll have no more wars.” — BILLBOARD Magazine, May 1945

“I can never forget the moment of hearing it…we sat there transfixed…it was more than a momentary impact. It was indelible.” — Author Studs Terkel

“…I can recite 40% of ‘On A Note Of Triumph’ from memory…that prayer at the end is something I know like little children know The Lord’s Prayer.” — Director Robert Altman

Amidst a world of broadcasts, cablecasts, satcasts, netcasts, and podcasts, bring together everyone who matters to you and spend one hour with On A Note of Triumph.

On A Note of Triumph
Writer, director, producer: Norman Corwin

The Cast: Martin Gabel narrated, with Ludwig Donath, Peggy Rae, Joan Lorring, Elliott Lewis, Merton Koplin, Lucille Meredith, Raymond Lawrence, Alex Hartford, George Sorel, Dick Nelson, Bob Bruce, Joe Worthy, Lurene Tuttle, Regina Wallace, June Foray, Pat McGeehan, Harry Bartell, Jim Nusser, Peter Witt, Fred Essler, Norbert Muller, Ramsey Hill, Irene Tedrow, Eula Beal, and Johnny Bond.

Music: Bernard Herrmann; conducted by Lud Gluskin.

Sources for more information:

NPR: ‘On a Note of Triumph’

Norman Corwin

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1. John Weber - May 11, 2007

I agree on everything but one: This is the 62nd anniversary.

2. William Spear - May 11, 2007


Thank you for stopping by. “61st” has been edited to “62nd”.

Your point is appreciated,


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