Bernard Herrmann’s first performance as a conductor took place on May 17, 1933, when he led the newly-formed New Chamber Orchestra (of which he was co-founder) at the New School for Social Research. Steven C. Smith’s biography admirably recounts the details of the event, and photographs of the auditorium and of the program are available elsewhere on this site (Herrmann Photo Biography New York City).
The day after the concert, Herrmann wrote a letter to Henry Cowell recounting what happened. This letter, now part of the Henry Cowell Papers at the New York Public Library, reveals a great amount of detail including who attended the concert, and the audience’s reactions.
The Estate of Bernard Herrmann has kindly granted permission for this letter to be publishing on this website in observance of the composer’s 103rd birthday.