Danny Epstein

Music Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his 75-minute Archive interview, Music Director Danny Epstein (1925 - 2010) talks about his 35-year association with Sesame Street as manager of the show's Music Services Department. Epstein, a founding member of the series creative team, speaks of his service to the show, which began under the guiding force of composer Joe Raposo. Epstein discusses his early years deciding on a musical career, and tells of his pre-Sesame Street association with Joe Raposo and Jim Henson. He details several production aspects of the series' initial five pilots and describes how during the early years of the show he was told to "keep his day job" since the series' future was uncertain. Epstein talks about the research that went into the show, the so-called "Madison Avenue format" of 30 and 60-second pieces, and the relationship between the research and music departments. He explains the stories behind several of the most well-known songs on the show, including the series' theme song, "Bein' Green," "Sing," and "Rubber Duckie." Karen Herman conducted the interview on July 20, 2004 in New York City.

"Joe Raposo's description of everything we do was, 'we don't play down to kids. We just have a very short audience.'"

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Danny Epstein on the Sesame Street hit song "Rubber Duckie"
Danny Epstein on the theme song to Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on Joe Raposo writing the Sesame Street hit song "Sing"
Danny Epstein on the Sesame Street hit song "People In Your Neighborhood"
Danny Epstein on the legacy of Sesame Street
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his early interest in music and attending Juilliard; on playing in Broadway symphonies
On his early memories of television; on meeting Joe Raposo and Jim Henson and playing music for Henson's television appearances and commercials
On the five pilot programs and original plan for Sesame Street; on changes to the original set
On joining the NBC house band; on being in the NBC studio when man walked on the moon
On the beginning of his association with Sesame Street; on Joe Raposo and his musical style
On the theme song to Sesame Street

Chapter 2

On the theme song to Sesame Street, contd.; on his responsibilities on the show; on the musical talents of the cast
On the process for creating songs for Sesame Street; on "Being Green," "Sing," and other Sesame Street hit songs; on union negotiations
On music/songs that were rejected on Sesame Street; on working with the characters/cast members and guest stars

Chapter 3

On performing at The Hollywood Bowl
On the music catalog from Sesame Street; on the popularity of the song "Sing" from Sesame Street; on how the program has changed over the years
On working with Joan Ganz Cooney; on the success and legacy of Sesame Street
On the music he listens to; on advice to aspiring music professionals who want to work in television
Shows

Ed Sullivan Show, The aka Toast of the Town

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Danny Epstein on he and Joe Raposo playing music for Jim Henson on his appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Danny Epstein on winning Emmys for Music Direction for Sesame Street

Sesame Street

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Danny Epstein on the five pilot programs and original plan for Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the beginning of his association with Sesame Street and the research that went into creating Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on popular music of the day influencing the music on Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the theme song to Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the theme song to Sesame Street, contd.
Danny Epstein on his responsibilities on Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the musical talent of the Sesame Street cast
Danny Epstein on the process for creating songs for Sesame Street (and the creation of  "Being Green," "Sing," "Rubber Duckie" and other hit songs)
Danny Epstein on popular songs from Sesame Street ("Doin' The Pigeon," "People In Your Neighborhood," "One of These Things," "Monster In the Mirror")
Danny Epstein on music/songs that were rejected on Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on working with the characters/cast members of Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on working with guest stars on Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the library of music from Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on how Sesame Street has changed over the years
Danny Epstein on winning Emmys for Music Direction for Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the success of Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the legacy of Sesame Street
Topics

Advice

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Danny Epstein on advice to aspiring music professionals who want to work in television

Emmy Awards

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Danny Epstein on winning Emmys for Music Direction for Sesame Street

Historic Events and Social Change

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Danny Epstein on being in the NBC studio when man walked on the moon

Moon Landing

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Danny Epstein on being in the NBC studio when man walked on the moon

Pop Culture

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Danny Epstein on the theme song to Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the theme song to Sesame Street, contd.
Danny Epstein on the Sesame Street hit song "Rubber Duckie"
Danny Epstein on Joe Raposo writing the Sesame Street hit song "Sing"

TV Theme Songs

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Danny Epstein on the theme song to Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the theme song to Sesame Street, contd.

Television Industry

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Danny Epstein on advice to aspiring music professionals who want to work in television
Genres

Children's Programming

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Danny Epstein on the beginning of his association with Sesame Street and the research that went into creating Sesame Street; on the music on the show
Danny Epstein on the hit songs of Sesame Street and working with the cast
Danny Epstein on the success and legacy of Sesame Street

Commercials

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Danny Epstein on he and Joe Raposo playing music for Jim Henson for his commercial appearances
People

Kevin Clash

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Danny Epstein on working with the characters/cast members of Sesame Street - Kevin Clash

Joan Ganz Cooney

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Danny Epstein on working with Joan Ganz Cooney

Jim Henson

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Danny Epstein on he and Joe Raposo meeting Jim Henson and playing music for Henson's television appearances and commercials
Danny Epstein on working with the characters/cast members of Sesame Street - Jim Henson

Loretta Long

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Danny Epstein on working with the characters/cast members of Sesame Street - Loretta Long

Bob McGrath

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Danny Epstein on working with the characters/cast members of Sesame Street - Bob McGrath

Frank Oz

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Danny Epstein on working with the characters/cast members of Sesame Street - Frank Oz

Joe Raposo

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Danny Epstein on meeting Joe Raposo
Danny Epstein on Joe Raposo and his musical style
Danny Epstein on the process for creating songs for Sesame Street
Danny Epstein on the popularity of the song "Sing" from Sesame Street

Caroll Spinney

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Danny Epstein on working with the characters/cast members of Sesame Street - Carroll Spinney

Jon Stone

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Danny Epstein on meeting soon-to-be Sesame Street producer Jon Stone

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