Macklin Marrow and the WNYC Concert Orchestra

WNYC History Notes Vol. 3 Issue 8

Friday, August 03, 2012 - 10:00 AM

From July 1939 to March 1942, conductor and composer Macklin Marrow led the WNYC Concert Orchestra. The 35-piece ensemble was sponsored by The New York City Music Project, a unit of the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA). One of Marrow's earliest assignments at the station was the August 2, 1939, dedication of the WNYC WPA murals when the orchestra performed the scherzo from William Grant Still's Afro-American Symphony (audio above).

Marrow was musical director of the Provincetown Players from 1923-1929 and then served in a similar capacity with the Central City, Colorado Music Festival. He conducted the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra at summer concerts in Lewisohn Stadium and music for some fifty Broadway shows and at Radio City Music Hall. He also appeared as a guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic Symphony, the National and Seattle symphonies.

Following his stint at WNYC, Marrow went on to be the Music Director of the Office of War Information's overseas branch during World War II. By May of 1944 he had accepted a position as Director of RCA Victor's Red Seal division. From RCA he went on to his last position as the Music Director for MGM Records.

The 1939 WNYC mural dedication ceremony also had Marrow conducting the orchestra in the ballet music from Deems Taylor's Casanova (segment below). It is followed by a short anecdote about Marrow from master of ceremonies Ezra MacIntosch, host of WNYC's Voice of the Theater.

On January 18, 1940, Marrow led the WNYC Concert Orchestra in the first public performance of Elliot Griffis' Persian Fable (1925). Two months later they did a rendition of Henry Cowell's Old Country Set.

Marrow and the orchestra performed the Griffis piece a year later at the WNYC American Music Festival along with Henry Hadley’s "The Entrance of Montezuma" from his opera Azora.

The New York Times quoted Marrow as saying, "music was made for comfort...You can listen to it in two ways. You can sit up to it in Carnegie Hall as if you were listening to a lecture. Or you can lie flat on the floor with a cigarette in one hand and a spot of champagne hard by the other." [1]


[1] "Macklin Marrow, Composer, Is Dead," The New York Times, August 9, 1953, pg. 77.

The first, second and fourth audio segments are courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.


Broadcast on WNYC Today in:

1929: Police alarms - Note: NYPD's 'Most Wanted.'

1958: On this edition of The United Nations Story James Michener tells the story of Ronald Morse, a World Health Officer and his visit with the ex-head hunters of Borneo.

1992: Don Mathisen reports on Police Commissioner Lee Brown's resignation.

2000: Beth Fertig reports on the GOP platform from the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.


More in:

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About NYPR Archives & Preservation

Mission Statement: The New York Public Radio Archives supports the mission and goals of WNYC and WQXR by honoring the broadcast heritage of the radio stations and preserving their organizational and programming legacy for future generations of public radio listeners. The Archives will collect, organize, document, showcase and make available for production all original work generated by and produced in association with WNYC and WQXR Radio.

The NYPR Archives serves the stations staff and producers by providing them with digital copies of our broadcast material spanning WNYC and WQXR's respective 90 and 77 year histories.  We also catalog, preserve and digitize, provide reference services, store, and acquire WNYC and WQXR broadcast material (originals and copies) missing from the collection. This repatriation effort has been aided by dozens of former WNYC and WQXR staff as well as a number of key institutions. Additionally, our collecting over the last ten years goes beyond sound and includes photos, publicity materials, program guides, microphones, coffee mugs, buttons and other ephemera. We've left no stone unturned in our pursuit of these artifacts. The History Notes is a showcase for many of these non-broadcast items in our collection. 

In fact, if you’ve got that vintage WNYC or WQXR knick-knack, gee-gaw, or maybe a photo of someone in front of our mic, an old program guide or vintage piece of remote equipment and would like to donate it to us, or provide a copy of the item to us, write to Andy Lanset at   

The Archives and Preservation series was created to bring together the leading NYPR Archives related, created, or sourced content material at


Supported by