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Leroy Anderson conducted by Kurt Anderson
Leroy Anderson and Kurt Anderson Press

Salina Journal, Kansas article

His father's pops

Son of popular composer to direct orchestra


By Tana Thomson

When asked for a bit of background on his father's music, Kurt Anderson bursts out singing "Sleigh Ride."

That seems to be the best introduction when describing Leroy Anderson's light-hearted music to a classical novice. Its a tune everyone knows and loves to sing with the first twinge of crisp winter weather. And suddenly hearing someone croon thoe familar lyrics, even over the phone half a country away, brings a smile. Which is what Anderson's music is all about.

"The music takes ordinary objects and events in our lives and depicts them in a humorous or whimsical, insightful way," Kurt Anderson said.

That's why Leroy Anderson's music was chosen for the Salina Symphony's Poops Concert at 4 p.m. Sunday in Sams Chapel at Kansas Wesleyan University. Kurt Anderson will be the guest conductor.

"It is music that just makes you feel like smiling," said Judy Brengman, symhony board chairwoman. "it was written with a smile on the composer's face."

Brengman also gave the example of "The Waltzing Cat," in which the violins "meow" like a cat. "If the audience does not laugh at that one, its going to be a real sad day," she said.

Leroy Anderson wrote music for the Boston Pops Orchestra while it was under the direction of Arthur Fiedler. Kurt Anderson said Fiedler encouraged his father to compose. His most popular pieces include "Sleigh Ride," "The Syncopated Clock," "The Typewriter," "Bugler's Holiday" and "Blue Tango," which was the No. 2 popular tune of 1952.

"His music was first written in the 1950's, and many people who grew up after then know it, though they don't always know the name of the piece or who wrote it," Kurt Anderson said.

"Which is why he travels the country serving as gust conductor for community orchestras. Anderson, who works at classical radio station WMNR in Monroe, Conn., started conducting his father's music seven years ago after he was invited by a local orchestra.

His father's music is unique in the different sounds he used.

"Many people tried to describe it as music that utilizes sound effects," Kurt Anderson said. "A better description of his music is that it paints a musical picture of both inanimate objects and real things with a special blend of humor and appreciation. Even his composition about a typewriter has it doing humanlike things that a real typewriter wouldn't do."

Classic Pops music of Leroy Anderson, conducted by his son, Kurt Anderson