|Vying For Airtime
|Eugene Ormandy Carbon copy of autograph letter signed, to
Hollywood, Calif., 31 August 1956
During the 1950s, as television viewing became more common in American households, Ormandy worked to secure a place for himself and the Philadelphia Orchestra on the small screen. Although the orchestra appeared with some regularity in local telecasts, Ormandy's goal was to build a broader following through series of national broadcasts on network television.
As their audiences grew, the networks began examining viewers' habits and adjusting their programming accordingly. While viewers supported the idea of cultural programming on television, they showed little patience for it when it appeared on their screens. They wanted to be entertained, and because televised concerts appealed only to a small audience, the networks became increasingly cautious in programming serious music during prime time.
Once Ormandy realized the networks would not be beating a path to his door, he decided to take a more active role in pursuing national telecasts. Ormandy signed a two-year personal contract with New York–based agent Julius Seebach in April 1956 with the hope that Seebach could secure engagements on national television for himself and the orchestra.