Walter continued his piano lessons in New York City.
During his leisure moments he rambled with his brother and sisters through Central Park or made toys with the tools which his father had provided to give extra training to his busy fingers.
Indeed, the boy forgot the disgrace of his first orchestra appearance in the building of a doll's theater.
This he furnished completely with a wonderful stage, brilliantly lighted, and a marvelous curtain that went easily up or down.
The young musician then presented in his little theater a new opera by Wagner,
his audience being all the members of his family and a few of their friends. A chum helped to pull the strings that moved the toy actors;
but Walter himself played the music which told the story that was being acted out upon the tiny stage. Dr. Damrosch was quite proud of Walter's production of the opera,
which had recently been heard in Germany for the first time. Now Walter's father began to train his son to be an orchestra conductor.
He gave him a place back among the violins, for he felt that Walter should have training as a member of the orchestra. As time went on,
young Damrosch learned more and more about music. For the great Musical Festival of 1881, which his father spent nearly a year in preparing,
Walter was allowed to drill groups of singers, and to accompany the huge chorus and orchestra upon the organ. The Festival was a success,
and when it was over, Damrosch was elected by a musical society to conduct its orchestra. Though he was only eighteen years old,
the young man had already won a place for himself in the musical world.
LEADER OF A MUSICAL FAMILY
To this young conductor, all music had a message; and he tried to draw out this message from his players and their instruments as he faced them with his baton.
He began to think of his orchestra as a musical family.