|The musical relationship between Leroy Anderson and
Arthur Fiedler was a special one that resulted in a body of unique compositions that are a
permanent part of the repertoires Boston Pops Orchestra repertoire and of orchestras
throughout the world.
Leroy Anderson recounts how it began in 1936: "I did this piece," he remembers,
"and Arthur Fiedler took a look at it backstage and said, 'Anderson! You orchestrate
well!' I didn't know if he was accusing me of something or what; that was his blunt,
direct manner. But then he said, 'How about doing something for us? A year or so later, I
came back to conduct again, and brought a little piece called 'Jazz Pizzicato' to do as an
encore. Fiedler liked it enough to play it for two years - and that's how I got
After World War II Anderson went to work as an arranger for the Pops in addition to
writing his own compositions. "At the time I went to work for the Pops," he
remembers, "people were submitting all sorts of light things to Fiedler, but they
just weren't any good. There'd be a big stack a foot high of all these scores, and Fiedler
was very conscientious about going through them. The trouble was that popular writers
couldn't write for orchestra -they lacked the technique and the background. All they could
do was write the melody ... And the trouble with serious composers was that they thought,
oh, this is something anyone can do, and they'd approach it in that spirit. One man, who
is now the head of a university music department, submitted something and Fiedler wouldn't
play it. 'I don't understand it,' the man said; 'it has all the popular elements.' Well,
there's no such thing.
Arthur Fiedler was born in Boston on December 17, 1894, his background deeply rooted in
European musical tradition. His father, Emanuel Fiedler, was an Austrian-born violinist
who played in the Boston Symphony for 25 years. His mother was a gifted pianist and
musician who gave young Arthur his first piano lessons, which he admits were, along with
the practicing, a chore. He was schooled at the Prince Grammar School and the Boston Latin
until his father retired from the orchestra and took the family back to Austria. but that
was not before Arthur had absorbed some of the music and culture that belongs to Boston.
He worked in publishing houses in Vienna and Berlin and then entered the Royal Academy in
Berlin to study violin, piano and conducting.
Fiedler returned to Boston at the start of World War I and in 1915 joined the Boston
symphony Orchestra under Karl Muck. Arthur was not only a violinist, but also played as
orchestra violist, pianist, organist, and percussionist.
In 1924 he formed and was the conductor of the Boston Sinfonietta, a chamber orchestra
made up of Boston Symphony Orchestra members. Then in an effort to bring as much music to
the public as possible, he initiated a campaign for a series of free outdoor concerts. His
efforts were rewarded in 1929 with the first Esplanade Concert on the Charles River. In
1954, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of those concerts, the Arthur Fiedler Foot
Bridge was dedicated over what is now Storrow Drive. He was appointed the eighteenth
conductor of the Boston Pops in 1930.
Arthur and the Boston Pops brought music lovers from all over the country and the world to
Symphony Hall for a remarkable 50 years. Mr. Fiedler conducted the Pops for five seasons
longer than all of his seventeen predecessors combined, and through his originality, his
warm and sometimes mysterious stage presence, and his inimitable style, the distinguished
white-haired gentleman on the podium became one of Boston's best-known, best-loved
Mr. Fiedler died on July 10, 1979, His wife, Ellen Bottomly Fiedler, died in November