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Leroy Anderson conducted by Kurt Anderson
About Leroy Anderson and Kurt Anderson

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Leroy Anderson 1908-1975

The music of Leroy Anderson is firmly entrenched in American popular culture. A composer of distinctive and delightful miniatures, his best-known works include Sleigh Ride, The Syncopated Clock and Blue Tango.

Leroy Anderson was born on June 29, 1908 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Swedish immigrants. He earned his B.A. (magna cum laude) and M.A. in music at Harvard, where in the 30’s, he was director of the Harvard University Band. His clever arrangements brought him to the attention of Arthur Fiedler, music director of the Boston Pops, who encouraged him to write original compositions for the orchestra. The first, in 1938, was Jazz Pizzicato.

During World War II, the Army made use of Anderson's fluency in languages. He served as a translator and interpreter in Iceland beginning in 1942. Later Anderson wrote The Syncopated Clock while working as Chief of the Scandinavian Desk of Military Intelligence at the Pentagon.

Fiedler continued to premier Anderson’s works, until 1950, including "Fiddle-Faddle" and "Trumpeter’s Lullaby". After that his pieces, including the 1952 #1 hit "Blue Tango", received their first performances when recorded by the composer for Decca Records.

Anderson wrote his most ambitious work, "Piano Concerto in C", in 1953. He withdrew the work after its premiere,, intending to make changes in the first movement. He wrote his Broadway musical "Goldilocks" in 1958 with Jean and Walter Kerr.

He married Eleanor Firke in 1942. The Andersons moved to Woodbury, Connecticut where they raised a family of four children. Leroy conducted orchestras throughout North America and continued to compose and conduct his music until his death in 1975.

Composer John Williams has said of Leroy Anderson’s music, "though we have performed his works countless times over the years at the Boston Pops, his music remains forever as young and fresh as the very day on which it was composed.".

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Kurt Anderson

Kurt Anderson, one of four children of Leroy Anderson, is General Manager of classical radio station WMNR Fine Arts Radio in Monroe, Connecticut. He enjoys sharing his love for his father's music with orchestras and concert bands throughout the country. Recently he has conducted the Magic Valley Symphony in Idaho, The Bangor Symphony Orchestra in Maine and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra while they were on tour in Connecticut.

"There are many composers who have written serious music, and some of them have done it quite well, but there are very few who have written music that makes you smile and I am proud to say that my father did that quite well."

"While his music may be whimsical, he took his work very seriously and he valued his ability to discriminate. It helped him to select ideas and to develop them so that they would be worthy of people's attention. Since he wrote short orchestral works, he generally worked at his desk or paced, carefully composing and reviewing each musical phrase of his composition. He could work, on and off, for months getting a 3 minute piece just right.

"Many find his music special because of his ability to depict everyday events and objects in an extraordinary way. Leroy Anderson has an old-fashioned clock do more than just go tick-tock and he takes us on an exhilarating sleigh ride even if there is no snow."

"I am often asked what Leroy Anderson was like. That's easy to answer. He was like his music. At the dinner table he would share, with great appreciation, simple yet witty word based jokes. He would take the whole family to New York City and to see some of the great broadway musicals. Once he found a movie theater that was playing a Charlie Chaplin silent film and he took us to see and appreciate this classic American film."

"Leroy Anderson's place in musical history is unique. His music is spirited and manages to capture a liveliness that many people enjoy but is not found in all music. This aspect of composing requires not just musical skills but a creative genius. His kind of creativity did not earn him a place in the annals of serious music but it accomplished something far more elusive. The music of Leroy Anderson is enjoyed by millions of people, over many generations, throughout the world."

In 1999 Kurt produced and hosted a one hour radio documentary on Leroy Anderson that was heard on National Public Radio stations. In 2000 he developed a new web site on Leroy Anderson as a companion to the PBS hour long program "Once Upon a Sleigh Ride; The Music of Leroy Anderson." He lives in Connecticut with his family.

References

Kurt Anderson's appearance with our Symphony in 2003 was a festive and successful affair: the large audience thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful music of his father, and were able to take home a memory with a CD or video. The whole concert was a charm from beginning to end with stories, video, and moments of musical antics. Mr. Anderson's conducting of the music brought touching emotion and real connection with both the musicians and audience, ending with a standing ovation. We highly recommend this program!

Ted Hadley Conductor, Magic Valley Symphony, Twin Falls, ID; 208-733-1079; pthadley(at)ltlink.com 

It is with great delight we give high praise for our recent experience with Kurt Anderson. His appearance made our Pops concert sparkle. Preparing the program was a real joy for our musicians--(who could not smile at The Waltzing Cat?!!). Kurt stepped onto the podium at dress rehearsal as an unknown visitor, quickly winning our respect by his interpretation of his father's mastery. There is no hesitation to recommend both an all-Anderson program and Kurt Anderson as conductor.

Judith Brengman, President; Salina Symphony; 917 S. Santa Fe; Salina, Kansas 67401 dated March 18, 2001
 
Orchestras Conducted

Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra on tour in Bridgeport, Connecticut
Magic Valley Symphony, Twin Falls, Idaho
Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, Norwalk, Connecticut
Salina Symphony Orchestra, Salina, Kansas
Orchestra New England, New Haven, Connecticut
Mary Washington College Community Orchestra, Fredericksburg, Virginia
New Haven Civic Orchestra, New Haven, Connecticut
Bangor Symphony Orchestra, Bangor, Maine
Waterbury Symphony Orchestra, Waterbury, Connecticut
Scottsdale Symphony Orchestra, Scottsdale, Arizona
Hamden Symphony Orchestra, Hamden, Connecticut
Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra
Wallingford Symphony Orchestra, Wallingford, Connecticut
Danbury Symphony Orchestra, Danbury, Connecticut
Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra, Connecticut

Bands Conducted

U. S. Coast Guard Band, New London, Connecticut
Golden Eagle Brass Band, Denver, Colorado
Fulton American Band, Waterbury, Connecticut
Moore County Concert Band, Pinehurst, North Carolina
Connecticut Symphonic Band, Stratford, Connecticut 

Recent Engagements

Erie Philharmonic, Pennsylvania, February 16, 2008
Magic Philharmonic, Burley, Idaho, April 11, 2008

Brandywine Winds, Greenfield, Indianna, May 30, 2008
Raritan Valley Symphonic Band, Hillsborough, New Jersey, June 1, 2008
Wallingford Symphony Orchestra, Madison, Connecticut July 5, Wallingford, Connecticut July 6, 2008

Des Moines Community Orchestra, Iowa, November 3, 2008


 
 
 

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