Sir Rudolf Bing, director of the New York Metropolitan Opera, invited Chagall in 1966 to design sets and costumes for a new production of Mozart's The Magic Flute. Impressed with the results, and being familiar with a large decorative stainted glass window Chagall had executed for the United Nations, Bing persuaded the Opera board to commission from Chagall two large murals for the grand tier foyer of the new opera house then under construction at Lincoln Center. The chief feature of the design was that the murals would be visible through large glass windows to passersby outside. Chagall chose as his subjects The Sources of Music and the Triumphs of Music; the present work is a study for the former mural, which was set into the north side of the building. The central figure in this composition is a merging of David and Orpheus seen playing the lyre, thus tracing the origins of western music back to antiquity.
Photo-certificate no. 95048 from the Comité Marc Chagall dated Saint-Paul, October 10, 1995 accompanies this drawing.