Music Makes a City

Music Makes a City premiered January 24, 2014.

About the Program

"In striking synchronicity, a mayor, a conductor and a robust postwar generation of composers intersected to make the city a hub for visionary composition.” – New York Times

Elliott Carter, composerElliott Carter was one of many contemporary composers commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra.© Elliot Carter The documentary film Music Makes a City chronicles one of the most ambitious artistic projects ever mounted in the United States, demonstrating the transformative power the arts can have on a community. In the late 1940s, the charismatic mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, planned to save his hometown orchestra and bring prosperity to Louisville by commissioning new music on an unprecedented scale — a project which took the Louisville Orchestra to Carnegie Hall, created two celebrated collaborations with the legendary dancer/choreographer Martha Graham and attracted international acclaim.

Narrated by Kentucky native Will Oldham a.k.a. “Bonnie Prince Billy,” Music Makes a City is a wonderful weave of archival footage and anecdotes from veteran Louisville musicians and civic figures. The film features an evocative soundtrack of selected commissions recorded by the Louisville Orchestra, as well as interviews with some of the project’s key participants: iconic American composers Lukas Foss, Chou Wen-chung, Gunther Schuller and Elliott Carter.

Watch the web series inspired by the film below.

About the Web Series

Music Makes a City chronicled the historic turnaround of the Louisville Orchestra in the mid-20th century; Music Makes a City Now picks up the story today. Follow the whirlwind first year of brilliant 27-year-old conductor and composer Teddy Abrams as he takes the baton of the Louisville Orchestra and charts a colorful course to usher in a modern musical renaissance in Louisville, KY.


Music Makes a City was produced by Owsley Brown Presents.


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© Owsley Brown Presents. All Rights Reserved.

Photos: George Bailey, Thomas V. Miller, Lin Caulfield, Al Blunk, James K Keen.  © The Courier-Journal, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Louisville Orchestra, Elliott Carter, Martha Graham Center, The University of Louisville Archives, Louisville KY.

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Music Makes a City

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Music Makes a City: A Louisville Orchestra Story

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