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Leroy Anderson etched out his own unique place in American music - a composer rigorously trained in the classical tradition whose records could top the pop charts, a reclusive personality whose compositions became household words, and a meticulous craftsman who could pull one marvelous tune after another out of his hat almost at will. Here, in the first complete cycle of Anderson's orchestral music, the Anderson family has made available several pieces that the composer did not release, with some first recordings scattered among the familiar and not-sofamiliar titles. Volume One closes with Anderson's Piano Concerto which, since its revival in 1989, has been receiving an increasing number of performances.
LEROY ANDERSON - BIOGRAPHY
The world-famous creator of the Christmas standard Sleigh Ride, Leroy Anderson was the eclectic assimilator of many diverse styles. He is best-known as a composer of painstakingly-crafted, to-the-point, irrepressibly tuneful original orchestral compositions. Yet a quick glance through his catalogue also reveals an extensive listing of arrangements, as well as some revisions or alternate versions of his own works. Naxos’ complete edition of Anderson’s orchestral works concentrates on these aspects of his output, and like the other volumes in this project, and contains some hitherto unrecorded or unpublished rarities that the Anderson family has released.
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1908, Anderson was a graduate of Harvard University, where he studied composition with Walter Piston and George Enescu, and led the Harvard Band for a number of years. He seemed headed for a career in linguistics until a guest spot in 1936 leading the Boston Pops Orchestra in his Harvard Fantasy caught the discerning ear of Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler, who promptly asked Anderson to write some pieces for the orchestra. Anderson was the first composer to sell over a million copies of a purely instrumental work with his Blue Tango (1953). The Syncopated Clock, written seven years earlier, had been his first golden disc and US charted hit (it reached No. 11 in 1951 for Andersons own Pops Concert Orchestra).
Following a long break during World War II, where he served in the U.S. Army as a translator of Scandinavian languages, Anderson became a regular at the Pops, crafting arrangements of popular music and writing miniature gems of his own. Anderson’s star rose to surprising heights after he was offered a recording contract of his own with Decca Records in 1950, for which he led pick-up orchestras of New York’s finest symphonic musicians in best-selling albums of his own compositions. He turned to Broadway, completing the score for one show, Goldilocks, in 1958 before returning to his metier, the miniature, with one final burst of new published material in 1962. Aside from writing a few unpublished original pieces, Anderson’s remaining years were spent mostly arranging and guest-conducting until his death from lung cancer in 1975.