Taylor, Deems (Joseph Deems Taylor), 1885-1966, American composer and music critic, b. New York City, grad. New York Univ., 1906. After other journalistic posts he was music critic (1921-25) of the New York World and editor (1927-29) of the magazine Musical America. In 1933 he was appointed music consultant for the Columbia Broadcasting System and later was a commentator (1936-43) for the radio broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic. His first widely recognized composition was the orchestral suite Through the Looking Glass (1919, rev. 1922). Two of his operas were commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera Company—The King's Henchman (1927), with libretto by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Peter Ibbetson (1931), based on George Du Maurier's novel. Taylor composed several other orchestral works and incidental music for a number of plays. He also appeared as the master of ceremonies in Walt Disney's motion picture Fantasia (1940). His books include Of Men and Music (1937), The Well-Tempered Listener (1940), and Some Enchanted Evenings (1953).

See biography by J. A. Pegolotti (2003)

Deems Taylor (born Joseph Taylor) (22 December 1885 - July 3, 1966) was a U.S. composer and music critic.

Taylor was born in New York City and educated at New York University (NYU). He initially planned to become an architect; however, despite minimal musical training he soon took to music composition. The result was a series of works for orchestra and/or voices. In 1916 he wrote the cantata The Chambered Nautilus, followed by Through the Looking-Glass (for orchestra) in 1918, earning him public praise and recognition.

Taylor was also a friend of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of writers, actors and critics that met almost daily from 1919-1929 at Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel. He briefly dated Dorothy Parker.

In 1921 he secured a job as music critic for the New York World, a post he held when approached by the Metropolitan Opera to suggest a composer to write a new opera. He put forth his own name, and was accepted, the result being The King's Henchman, with the libretto by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Peter Ibbetson followed in 1929.

In 1940, he he was the introducer for Fantasia.

Taylor was a promoter of classical music throughout his life, working in broadcasting, and as intermission commentator for the New York Philharmonic. He provided the commentary of the technical story behind the recording of actual cannon fire and carillon for the famous recording (by Mercury, in 1954) of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture - still one of the most highly regarded recordings of that piece. He also appeared in Walt Disney's 1940 film Fantasia as the film's master of ceremonies. He was also a frequent guest on the radio quiz program Information Please.

Taylor also served as the president of ASCAP for six years.


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