Jay in Hell [Converted] I heard Norman Corwin’s 1945 radio play “On a Note of Triumph” for the first time in 1996… and my mind exploded.

In 1945, the war was coming to a close–in Europe, at least–and Corwin had prepared the program to help his fellow citizens process the meaning of the war that had pervaded every aspect of American existence for 4 years, and had claimed so many lives.  At just the moment when things seemed certain for the first time in years, Corwin injects more than a touch of uncertainty into the mix.  And when everybody else was cheering and crowing, Corwin delivered a thoughtful, poetic and cautionary appreciation of the wartime experience.

At once an essay, a dialectic, a drama, and an epic poem, “On a Note of Triumph” is also uniquely radio.  In 58 minutes Corwin, along with composer Bernard Herrmann and a crew of talented actors, musicians, sound designers and engineers, deconstructs the war from every perspective.  We hear from politicians, soldiers of both sides, civilians in Europe and elsewhere–the weak and the powerful alike. Corwin reminds us–even at the zenith of our euphoria–that victory is not its own end… that there is a touch of blackness in all our hearts… that we must proceed with thoughtfulness, and in a spirit of charity… and that “henceforward we must do a little civil thinking every day.”

If we have not lived up to the ideal Corwin set for us, it is not for the lack of power in his ideas or their presentation.  “On a Note of Triumph” is devastating and uplifing–a masterpiece–and the perfect way to kick off our story of transitional America.  It is our great pleasure to present it here.  Put on your headphones and listen: