During this early teenage period of his career, Earl Wild gave a brilliant and critically well received performance of Liszt's First Piano Concerto in E-flat with Dimitri Mitropoulos and the Minneapolis Symphony in Pittsburgh's Syria Mosque Hall. He performed the work without the benefit of a rehearsal.
In 1937, he joined the NBC network in New York City as a staff pianist. This position included not only the duties of playing solo piano and chamber recitals, but also performing in the NBC Symphony Orchestra under conductor Arturo Toscanini. In 1939, when NBC began transmitting its first commercial live musical telecasts, Mr. Wild became the first artist to perform a piano recital on U.S. television. In 1942, Toscanini made Earl Wild a household name when he invited him to be the soloist in an NBC radio broadcast of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. It was the first performance of the Rhapsody for both conductor and pianist, and although Mr. Wild had not yet played any of Gershwin's other compositions, he was immediately hailed as the major interpreter of Gershwin's music. The youngest (and only) American piano soloist ever engaged by the NBC Symphony, Mr. Wild was a member of the orchestra, working for the NBC radio and television network from 1937 to 1944.
During World War II, Mr. Wild served in the United States Navy as a musician, playing 4th flute in the Navy Band. He performed numerous solo piano recitals at the White House for President Roosevelt and played twenty-one piano concertos with the U.S. Navy Symphony Orchestra at the Departmental Auditorium, National Gallery, and other venues in Washington, D.C. During those two years in the Navy he was frequently requested to accompany First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to her many speaking engagements, where he performed the National Anthem as a prelude to her speeches.
Upon leaving the Navy in 1944, Mr. Wild moved to the newly formed American Broadcasting Company (ABC), where he was staff pianist, conductor, and composer until 1968. During both his NBC and ABC affiliations he was also performing and conducting many concert engagements around the world - at ABC he conducted and performed many of his own compositions. In 1962, ABC commissioned him to compose an Easter Oratorio. It was the first time that a television network subsidized a major musical work. Earl Wild was assisted by tenor William Lewis, who wrote the libretto and sang the role of St. John in the production. Mr. Wild's composition, Revelations was a religious work based on the apocalyptic visions of St. John the Divine. Mr. Wild also conducted its world premiere telecast in 1962, which blended dance, music, song, and theatrical staging. The large-scale oratorio was sung by four soloists and chorus and was written in three sections: Seal of Wisdom, The Seventh Angel, and The New Day. The first telecast was so successful that it was entirely restaged and rebroadcast on TV again in 1964.
Another composition by Mr. Wild, a choral work based on an American Indian folk legend titled The Turquoise Horse, was commissioned by the Palm Springs Desert Museum for the official opening and dedication ceremonies of their Annenberg Theater on January 11, 1976.
On September 26, 1992, the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra with Joseph Giunta Conducting gave the world premiere of Earl Wild's composition Variations on a Theme of Stephen Foster for Piano and Orchestra ('Doo-Dah' Variations) with Mr. Wild as the soloist. The composition was recorded a year later with the same orchestra and conductor.