ROGER ENGLANDER, was an Emmy Award-winning producer born on this date in Cleveland, Ohio (d: 2021); He was the director of the acclaimed “Young People’s Concerts”, which featured Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. Mr. Englander was an employees director at CBS in 1958 when he and Mr. Bernstein started collaborating on the Young People’s Concerts, embracing the mission to teach kids in regards to the joys of music. Englander had years earlier helped stage operas by Gian Carlo Menotti.
Using photographs from as many as eight cameras — two of them on the stage and one skilled, from behind the orchestra, on the emotive Mr. Bernstein — Mr. Englander directed all 53 hour-long episodes of the live shows, which have been staged and broadcast intermittently over time via 1972. The concerts, initially mounted at Carnegie Hall and later at Lincoln Center, are recognized as a classic of educational programming and a powerful presence in the lives of many musicians, and musically minded people to this day.
The Young People’s Concerts debuted in January 1958 with a program called “What Does Music Mean?” to favorable reviews. Without a commercial sponsor there was concern that the series would not last long. But CBS saw an opportunity to demonstrate that not all its programming was drivel (reacting to FCC Chairman Newton Minow’s characterization of television as a “vast wasteland.”) and continued to air the program.
A reviewer for The New York Times wrote in 1964 that Mr. Englander had “once more demonstrated that though confined to the boundaries of the live performance stage, he’s extraordinarily adept at cellular camerawork, which at all times retains the viewer.” His work on the live shows introduced him an Emmy in 1965.
During and after his tenure on Young People’s Concerts worked on musical segments for NBC’s Bell Telephone Hour — earning him another Emmy in 1959 — and the Emmy-nominated “Vladimir Horowitz: A Television Concert at Carnegie Hall” in 1968.
Englander died February 8, 2021. He is survived by his companion Michael Dupré.