The Kennedy Center

Leroy Anderson

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    Understanding the Music: Anderson - Bugler's Holiday


American composer Leroy Anderson was born in Cambridge Massachusetts on June 29, 1908. He began his musical studies at the age of 11 at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. While in the Cambridge High and Boston Latin School orchestra he composed and conducted the class song for his graduation ceremonies. He entered Harvard University as a music major, and graduated magna cum laude. He continued at Harvard to complete his MA in music, studying orchestration and composition with Georges Enescu and Walter Piston. While at Harvard he played trombone in the Harvard University Band. After finishing his MA in 1930 he was appointed Director of the Harvard University Band, which he served until 1935, when he moved to New York. In this capacity he had the opportunity to create many clever compositions and arrangements which ultimately caught the attention of Arthus Fiedler, then the Conductor of the Boston Pops.

Andersons's first arrangement for the Pops was a medley of Harvard songs in 1936. Fiedler encouraged Anderson to write many additional original compositions for the Pops concerts given every summer in Boston His first original work for the Pops was Jazz Pizzicato, in 1938.

During his tenure with the Harvard University Band Anderson continued graduate studies in German and Scandinavian languages, which resulted in his eventual assignment as a translator for the US Army during World war II. After his discharge from the army Anderson became the arranger and orchestrator for the Boston Pops from 1946 to 1950. In 1949 the Andersons moved to Woodbury, Connecticut, where they raised four children.

Although he wrote a piano concerto, and a Broadway musical Goldilocks, with Jean and Walter Kerr, Anderson is probably best remembered for his light classical compositions, which Fiedler continued to premier with the Boston Pops, including Trumpeter's Lullaby, Syncopated Clock, Fiddle Faddle, and the 1952 number one hit Blue Tango.. He continued to compose and conduct orchestral concerts throught the country until his death in 1975. In 1988 he was elected posthumously to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Leroy Anderson


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