The music of Hugh Downs at Interlochen

Jul 3, 2020

Hugh Downs speaks with musicians in Interlochen's National High School Symphony Orchestra in 1963
Credit Interlochen Center for the Arts

Since the 1940s, Hugh Downs has been known to most Americans as a television host on programs including "Tonight: Starring Jack Paar," "Today" and "20/20."

Downs, who died July 1 at the age of 99, was also a composer of classical music. He hosted the PBS classical music program "Live from Lincoln Center" during the 1990s.

During his first visit to Interlochen Center for the Arts in 1960, Downs was delighted when the National High School Symphony Orchestra performed one of his pieces, the Elegiac Prelude in A Minor.

Following the performance, which was conducted by Joe Maddy, Downs expressed his gratitude to the young musicians. He said that the performance of the piece was "the best I've ever heard it."

He also said this visit to Interlochen wouldn't be his last. He kept that promise, returning multiple times during the 1960s as a camp parent.

Listen to the archival recording of the performance from July 24, 1960, followed by Downs's remarks, below. 

Hugh Downs speaks with members of the National High School Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen in 1963
Credit Interlochen Center for the Arts