Sunday afternoon, November 14, 1943, was fairly quiet, as wartime Sunday afternoons go. The Russians, then our allies, were pressing the Germans back from Zhitomir; American submarines had just sunk several Japanese ships in the South Pacific; Allied Forces, both British and American, were making limited gains on the Italian front.
At home, cultural activities went on much as always. The Sunday crowd of music lovers had assembled in Carnegie Hall for the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra concert, scheduled to be led by the venerable émigré conductor Bruno Walter. But in that age of radio, the concert’s impact was no longer restricted to the audience in the hall: across the country the orchestra’s immense broadcast public was lined up in front of its sets, awaiting the beginning of what must have been for many an experience comparable to attendance at church.