Friday, February 7, 2014

Montage #142 – Arthur Fiedler

As of  March 7, 2014, this montage will no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address:


Our theme this month is “F” for February, and our four montages will explore four individual who share the initial.

It seems that every major orchestra (in North-America at least) programs “Popular” concerts in their subscription series, and in lots of instances, the concerts are handed over to a “Pops conductor”. I don’t quite understand why that is – it’s almost as if there’s something ignoble about it…

When we consider (or even, in some cases, reminisce) about the so-called “renowned” Pops conductors – that is, those who have had something of a presence on disc: Erich Kunzel (who led most notably the Cincinati Pops), “Skitch” Henderson (who led the New-York Pops), Frederick Fennell (more remembered for his work with the Eastman Wind Ensemble, but credited with conducting the “Eastman-Rochester Pops”), and then there’s Arthur Fiedler.

Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops are forever “joined at the hip” – not to disrespect John Williams and Keith Lockhart who have since succeeded him at the podium of the orchestra, or even his assistant of many years Henry Ellis Dickson, or some of his arrangers turned pops conductors most notably Richard Hayman and Leroy Anderson.

Fiedler, in many ways, was a trend-setter: his genuine sense for the pops repertoire, his lovable nature and willingness to “play along” with some of the more outrageous publicity stunts and album covers come to mind. One thing that I must state, however, is that Fielder’s conducting and sense of musical vision weren't always up to the standards of his successors or even his contemporaries, but he did make up for it by relying on the prowess of his great orchestra, and it is clear from footage I’ve seen that Boston Symphony Music Directors – like Seiji Ozawa – appreciated his work and looked at the Pops as an opportunity for back-benchers to take on more prominent chairs.

Be it on stage, on disc (his premiere recording of Jacob Gade's Jalousie,  sold more than a million copie!)s, or on TV on “Evening at Pops”, Fiedler always managed to cobble together a program that included “Pops” repertoire, light classics and providing back-up for great singers and entertainers of the day.

Today’s montage is an attempt at providing  you with a taste of everything: medleys of show tunes penned by the likes of the aforementioned Hayman, Peter Bodge or Jack Mason, popular tunes arranged for orchestra, some light classics (iunclusing some original works like Leroy Anderson’s Belle at the Ball) and even a “Pops Sing-Along”!

One of the major works I added to the montage is Hershy Kay’s ballet Music for “Stars and Stripes”, a ballet he scored for George Balanchine inspired by the works of John-Philip Sousa. Fieldler’s most popular “encore” was after all “Start and Stripes Forever"

I Think you will Love This Music too!