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Danny Epstein (1925–2010) was the director of music operations for Sesame Street. He was with the program from the first season in 1969 until 2009. "At the beginning, I only came for two weeks," he said in 1986, "just to help devise a system and get it started. That was sixteen years ago."[1] He was an associate of Joe Raposo's since 1964.[2]

Epstein began his career as a percussionist for Raposo's house band on Sesame Street and The Electric Company. He took the music for the show very seriously: "Music is the binder that holds it all together—wonderful moments of feelings and of the curriculum—and it's been like that since the very beginning. Music was always considered to be the attention-getting tool, the reason that the kids retained what they saw. If somebody were to recite the Gettysburg Address to you, you'd probably forget it. But if they sang it to you, you might remember!"

"The music for Sesame Street is never childish," he says. "The way everyone looks at it is that we're dealing with a very short audience."[1]

Epstein is the father of Ivy Austin, a frequent vocalist for the series. He also made an onscreen cameo as a street musician in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.

In 2006, Epstein served as a judge for the International Songwriting Competition. He won four Emmy awards during his lifetime for outstanding musical direction. Epstein retired in 2009, at the age of 83, and passed away on August 4, 2010.


The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation interviewed Epstein in 2004 for the Archive of American Television. The hour and a half interview was posted on YouTube in 2008.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Nancy Hughes Clark, "Behind the Scenes: Danny Epstein." Sesame Street Magazine issue 153, April 1986.
  2. Archive of American Television. Retrieved from on 3/26/08.

External links