If Fred Rogers was the heart
of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," Johnny Costa was its
soul. Costa always created the right musical mood and sounds to correspond
with each setting and scene.
the beginning of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" in 1965
until his death in 1996, Costa served as its musical directorand
pianist, conductor and arranger. Even after his death, much of the
Neighborhood music aired on the program continued to be Costa's.
When the credits rolled at the end each program, Costa's name remained
as Musical Director.
I snapped this
photograph in January 1995 during a taping break. Here,
Costa dubs in a needed second or two more of music.
Costa never liked replaying a piece or segment of music. "The first take is almost
always the best," he said throughout his career. And the
vast majority of his music was created "on the fly." Studio recordings were often first takes. Sometimes the music of a particular
Neighborhood segment was a few seconds short, so between tapings Costa added a few seconds to complete a particular scene.