Leroy Anderson

Leroy Anderson

Infobox Person
name = Leroy Anderson

caption = Leroy Anderson on the CD cover of "The Best of Leroy Anderson: Sleigh Ride"
birth_date = June 29, 1908
birth_place = Cambridge, Massachusetts
death_date = May 18, 1975 (aged 66)
death_place = Woodbury, Connecticut
other_names =
known_for = Light orchestral music composer
occupation = Composer
nationality = United States
spouse = Eleanor Firke (1942–)

Leroy Anderson (June 29 1908May 18 1975) was an American composer of short, light concert pieces, many of which were introduced by the Boston Pops Orchestra under the direction of Arthur Fiedler. John Williams described him as "one of the great American masters of light orchestral music."


Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Swedish parents, Leroy Anderson was given his first piano lessons by his mother, who was an organist. He continued studying piano with Henry Gideon at the New England Conservatory of Music, and he also took double bass lessons from Gaston Dufresne in Boston. In 1926 Anderson entered Harvard University, where he studied theory with Walter Spalding, counterpoint with Edward Ballantine, harmony with George Enescu and composition with Walter Piston. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1929 and Master of Arts in 1930.

He continued studying at Harvard, concentrating in German and Scandinavian languages, while also working as organist for the university, leading the choir and the Harvard University Band, and conducting and arranging for dance bands around Boston. His arranging work came to the attention of Arthur Fiedler in 1936 and Anderson was asked to show Fiedler any original compositions. [ [http://www.pbs.org/sleighride/Biography/Bio.htm PBS - Biography] ] Anderson's first work was "Jazz Pizzicato" in 1938 [ [http://www.pbs.org/sleighride/Video&Music/Compositions_JPizzicato.htm PBS - Compositions - Jazz Pizzicato] ] . Fiedler suggested that a companion piece be written and thus Anderson wrote "Jazz Legato" in 1939. [ [http://www.pbs.org/sleighride/Video&Music/Compositions_JLegato.htm PBS - Compositions - Jazz Legato] ]

In 1942 Leroy Anderson joined the U.S. Army, and was assigned to Iceland as a translator and interpreter. Later in 1945 he was assigned to the Pentagon as Chief of the Scandinavian Desk of Military Intelligence. But his duties did not prevent him from composing, and in 1945 he wrote "The Syncopated Clock" [ [http://www.pbs.org/sleighride/Video&Music/Compositions_SClock.htm PBS - Compositions - Syncopated Clock] ] and "Promenade". Anderson was a reserve officer and was recalled to active duty for the Korean War. In 1951 Anderson wrote his first hit, "Blue Tango", earning a Golden Disc and the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts.

His pieces and his recordings during the fifties conducting a studio orchestra were immense commercial successes. "Blue Tango" was the first instrumental recording ever to sell one million copies. His most famous pieces are probably "Sleigh Ride" and "The Syncopated Clock", both of which are instantly recognizable to millions of people. In 1950, WCBS-TV in New York City selected "Syncopated Clock" as the theme song for "The Late Show", the WCBS late-night movie. Mitchell Parish added words to "Syncopated Clock", and later wrote lyrics for other Anderson tunes, including "Sleigh Ride", which was not written as a Christmas piece, but as a work that describes a winter event. Anderson started the work during a heat wave in August 1946. [ [http://www.pbs.org/sleighride/Video&Music/Compositions_SRide.htm PBS - Compositions - Sleigh Ride ] ] From 1952 to 1961, Anderson's composition "Plink, Plank, Plunk!" was used as the theme for the CBS panel show "I've Got A Secret."

Anderson's musical style, heavily influenced by George Gershwin and folk music of various lands, employs creative instrumental effects and occasionally makes use of sound-generating items such as typewriters and sandpaper. (Krzysztof Penderecki also uses a typewriter in his orchestral music, in "Fluorescences", but with a decidedly less humorous effect.)

Anderson wrote his Piano Concerto in C in 1953 but withdrew it, feeling that it had weak spots. In 1988 the Anderson family decided to publish the work. Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra released the first recording of this work; three other recordings have since been released.

In 1958 composed the music for the Broadway show "Goldilocks", which earned two Tony awards but did not achieve commercial success. Anderson never wrote another musical, preferring instead to continue writing orchestral miniatures. His pieces, including "The Typewriter", "Bugler's Holiday", and "A Trumpeter's Lullaby" are performed by orchestras and bands ranging from school groups to professional organizations.

Anderson would occasionally appear on the Boston Pops regular concerts on PBS to conduct his own music while Fiedler would sit on the sidelines. For "The Typewriter" Fiedler would don a green eyeshade, roll up his sleeves, and mime working on an old typewriter while the orchestra played.

In 1975, Anderson died due to cancer in Woodbury, Connecticut [ [http://www.leroyanderson.com/biography.htm Official Leroy Anderson website, biography section] ] [ [http://www.nndb.com/people/061/000109731/ NNDB profile] ] and is buried there. [ [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1807 FindaGrave.com] ]

For his contribution to the recording industry, Leroy Anderson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1620 Vine Street. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1988 and his music continues to be a staple of "pops" orchestra repertoire.

In 2006, one of his piano works, "Forgotten Dreams", became the background for a British TV advertisement for mobile phone company '3'. Previously, Mantovani's recording of the song had been the closing theme for WABC-TV's "Eyewitness News" for much of the 1970s.

His first name was pronounced the classical way, with the stress on the second syllable; "Luh-ROY" rather than the now prevalent pronunciation of that name, "LEE-roy".


*Alma Mater (1954)
*Arietta (1962)
*Balladette (1962)
*Belle of the Ball (1951)
*Birthday Party (1970)
*Blue Tango (1951)
*Bugler's Holiday (1954)
*Cambridge Centennial March of Industry (1946)
*The Captains and the Kings (1962)
*Chatterbox (1966)
*Chicken Reel (1946)
*China Doll (1951)
*A Christmas Festival (1950) (9:00)
*A Christmas Festival (1952) (5:45)
*Clarinet Candy (1962)
*Classical Jukebox (1950)
*Concerto in C Major for Piano and Orchestra (Pianokonsert i C-dur) (1953)
*The Cowboy and His Horse (1966)
*Do You Think That Love Is Here To Stay? (1935)
*Easter Song (194-)
*Fiddle-Faddle (1947)
*The First Day of Spring (1954)
*Forgotten Dreams (1954)
*The Girl in Satin (1953)
*The Golden Years (1962)

*Goldilocks Overture (1958)
*Come to Me (1958)
*Guess Who (1958)
*Heart of Stone (Pyramid Dance) (1958)
*He'll Never Stray (1958)
*Hello (1958)
*If I Can't Take it With Me (1958)
*I Never Know When to Say When (1958)
*Lady in Waiting (1958)
*Lazy Moon (1958)
*Little Girls (1958)
*My Last Spring (1958)
*Save a Kiss (1958)
*Shall I Take My Heart and Go? (1958)
*Tag-a-long Kid (1958)
*The Pussy Foot (1958)
*Town House Maxixe (1958)
*Who's Been Sitting in My Chair ? (1958)

*Governor Bradford March (1948)
*Harvard Fantasy (1936)
*Hens and Chickens (1966)
*Home Stretch (1962)
*Horse and Buggy (1951)

The Irish Suite (1947 & 1949)
*The Irish Washerwoman (1947)
*The Minstrel Boy (1947)
*The Rakes of Mallow (1947)
*The Wearing of the Green (1949)
*The Last Rose of Summer (1947)
*The Girl I Left Behind Me (1949)

*Jazz Legato (1938)
*Jazz Pizzicato (1938)
*Love May Come and Love May Go (1935)
*Lullaby of the Drums (1970)
*March of the Two Left Feet (1970)
*Melody on Two Notes (1966)
*Mother's Whistler (1940)
*The Music in My Heart (1935)
*An Old Fashioned Song (196-)
*Old MacDonald Had a Farm (1947)
*The Penny Whistle Song (1951)
*The Phantom Regiment (1951)
*Piece for Rolf (1961)
*Plink, Plank, Plunk! (1951)
*Promenade (1945)
*Sandpaper Ballet (1954)
*Saraband (1948)

Scottish Suite (1954)
*The Bluebells of Scotland
*Turn Ye To Me

*Second Regiment Connecticut National Guard March (1973)
*Serenata (1947)
*Sleigh Ride (1948)
*Song of Jupiter (1951)
*Song of the Bells (1953)
*Suite of Carols for Strings (1955)
*Suite of Carols for Brass (1955)
*Suite of Carols for Woodwinds (1955)
*Summer Skies (1953)
*The Syncopated Clock (1945)
*Ticonderoga March (1939)
*To a Wild Rose (1970) (Edward MacDowell)
*A Trumpeter's Lullaby (1949)
*The Typewriter (1950)
*You Can Always Tell a Harvard Man (1962)
*Waltz Around the Scale (1970)
*The Waltzing Cat (1950)
*Wedding March for Jane and Peter (1972)
*What's the Use of Love? (1935)
*The Whistling Kettle (1966)
*Woodbury Fanfare (1959)


* "Leroy Anderson: A Bio-Bibliography", Praeger 2004, Chapter 2 - "Works", Pages 25-81.
* "Published Music" of the [http://www.leroyanderson.com Leroy Anderson's official website] , maintained by his family.

External links

* [http://www.leroyanderson.com Official Leroy Anderson website] maintained by his family.
* [http://www.leroyanderson.com/biography.htm Leroy Anderson Biography] on official website.
* [http://www.pbs.org/sleighride/ Once Upon a Sleigh Ride] PBS website devoted to a 1999 documentary about Anderson; biographical sketches, photographs, etc.

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