One of the best-known musical figures of the first half of the 20th century, Deems Taylor was a composer, radio commentator, music critic, and author.
He was the composer of The King's Henchman, the first American opera ever commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, with libretto by Edna St. Vincent Millay. His second opera, Peter Ibbetson, was performed 22 times at the Met, and toured the country as part of its repertoire. Revenues from these two operas helped the Met survive the Depression.
He wrote two other operas, a number of orchestral pieces, including the often played Through the Looking Glass Suite, and hundreds of chorale pieces. He was an influential music critic, and published several compilations of his articles. In the 1930’s he became a famous radio personality, the voice of the New York Philharmonic, and appeared as a guest on many programs.
Today he is probably best known as the narrator of the original version of Disney’s classic film Fantasia.