Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2008 by Fred Flaxman

Program 142
"More Leroy Anderson"
 

MUSIC: Anderson: Bugler’s Holiday performed by Leroy Anderson and His Orchestra [MCA Classics MCAD2-9815-A, track 2] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

About a century ago -- on June 29, 1908, to be exact -- America’s greatest composer of orchestral miniatures was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Leroy Anderson, who died in 1975, wrote symphonic music that made the hit parade and won him a gold record, which was unprecedented for an instrumental symphonic recording.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Anderson’s birth, Naxos compact discs, in cooperation with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin and Leroy Anderson’s family, has released a series of CDs containing the composer’s complete orchestral output. Stay with me for the next hour and we’ll sample 15 of these pieces together.

MUSIC: fades out

First let me tell you what we are not going to hear. That prestigeous list includes Blue Tango, Jazz Pizzicato, Jazz Legato, The Syncopated Clock, Sleigh Ride, the overture to his Broadway musical Goldilocks, The Rakes of Mallow, Belle of the Ball, Plink Plank Plunk, Fiddle Faddle, The Waltzing Cat, The Typewriter and Chicken Reel. The reason you’re not going to hear these is because I’ve played all these on previous Compact Discoveries programs.

Now, having played all these great Anderson classics before, you may ask, is there anything really good left?

I think you’ll agree with me that there is at least another hour of great Anderson classics that I couldn’t possibly fit into that first hour. These pieces include Bugler’s Holiday, with which I opened this hour and which we’ll hear in its entirety later, A Trumpeter’s Lullaby, Saraband, The Phantom Regiment, Serenata, Forgotten Dreams, Song of the Bells, The Sandpaper Ballet, The Penny Whistle Song, Mother’s Whistler, Promenade, Horse and Buggy and Home Stretch. For no extra charge I’ll throw in two examples of Anderson’s clever orchestrations of tunes by others: his hilarious rendition of Old MacDonald Had a Farm and his Sousa-esque treatment of Meredith Wilson’s Seventy-Six Trombones from the Broadway musical The Music Man.

Let’s get started with The Sandpaper Ballet. Anderson loved to use unusual percussion instruments and everyday items that served as percussion instruments like the typewritter in his piece called The Typewriter and the clock in The Syncopated Clock. In The Sandpaper Ballet his percussionists use three grades of sandpaper to scratch out the rhythms in his own unique take on the old soft-shoe vaudeville routine. In this Naxos recording, the BBC Concert Orchestra is conducted by Leonard Slatkin.

MUSIC: Anderson: The Sandpaper Ballet performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559357, track 8] [3:18]

The Sandpaper Ballet by Leroy Anderson. The BBC Concert Orchestra was conducted by Leonard Slatkin. That same team will perform all of the works on this all-Anderson program except one. The recordings were issued in 2008 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Anderson’s birth in 1908.

Unlike the use of sandpaper in The Sandpaper Ballet, Leroy Anderson’s The Penny Whistle Song assigns some of his most endearing happy-go-lucky melodies to the flutes, thank goodness, and not to the penny whistle!

MUSIC: Anderson: The Penny Whistle Song performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559357, track 4] [2:38]

The Penny Whistle Song by Leroy Anderson, whose music I am devoting the entire hour to in celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Next let’s listen to Saraband. The title comes from a stately Baroque dance form, but Anderson doubles the speed of the rhythm underpinning the melody.

MUSIC: Anderson: Saraband performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559357, track 9] [3:36]

Leroy Anderson’s Saraband. Once again, Leonard Slatkin conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Leroy Anderson was a musical perfectionist. His self-critical nature led him to withhold compositions from public performance and recording that he didn’t think were up to his high standards. Such was the case with a 1940 piece called Mother’s Whistler. The title is a humorous play on words, referring to the famous painting by James McNeill Whistler of his mother. The sheet music disappeared for 40 years until it turned up in the Boston Pops library in 1980, and then it had to wait another 27 years for its first recording. This is one of several world premiere recordings of Anderson’s forgotten works that are found in this 2008 Naxos series.

MUSIC: Anderson: Mother’s Whistler performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559357, track 3] [3:30]

Mother’s Whistler by Leroy Anderson. I am featuring an entire hour of this composer’s charming miniatures on this edition of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute station break not included in the total timing for the program.]

Leroy Anderson’s Phantom Regiment depicts a nameless body of soldiers marching into and then trotting across the scene before marching away without a trace.

MUSIC: Anderson: The Phantom Regiment performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559357, track 5] [3:09]

The Phantom Regiment by Leroy Anderson. Leonard Slatkin conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra in this Naxos compact disc, one of several issued in 2008 to tie in with the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Next, how about taking a fast-paced Promenade with Leroy Anderson?

MUSIC: Anderson: Promenade performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559357, track 7] [2:47]

Leroy Anderson’s Promenade.

Anderson’s Serenata contains a pair of first-class tunes mixed with a Latin rhythm. The interesting program notes for this compact disc by Richard Ginell point out that, so far at least, it’s the only Anderson piece to become a jazz standard, having been recorded by Cannonball Adderley, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan, Quincy Jones, Wayne Shorter and others.

MUSIC: Anderson: Serenata performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559357, track 10] [3:54]

Serenata by Leroy Anderson.

A Trumpeter’s Lullaby, which we’ll listen to next, was written at the request of a trumpeter for the Boston Pops. Anderson was intrigued and challenged by the idea of writiing a lullaby for an instrument which is usually heard playing so loudly. Here’s the result.

MUSIC: Anderson: A Trumpeter’s Lullaby performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559357, track 17] [3:08]

Leroy Anderson’s A Trumpeter’s Lullaby. Like all the music I have played for you so far this hour, it was performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin. Catherine Moore was the solo trumpeter.

From the trumpet to the bugle is not a big stretch. But here’s the one piece I have selected for this hour that is not performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra. Instead I thought I would give you a taste of Leroy Anderson conducting his own orchestra in Bugler’s Holiday. The cornet soloists are James Burke, John Ware and Raymong Crisara. The CD spells Raymong with a “g” at the end, not a “d,” which may be a typo.

MUSIC: Anderson: Bugler’s Holiday performed by Leroy Anderson and His Orchestra [MCA Classics MCAD2-9815-A, track 2] [2:17]

Leroy Anderson conducted his own orchestra in Bugler’s Holiday. The cornet soloists were James Burke, John Ware and Raymong Crisara.

Now back to the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin for the rest of this hour of music by Leroy Anderson. First we’ll hear two horsey pieces: Horse and Buggy and Home Stretch. Program notes author Richard Ginell writes that when commentators refer to a Norman Rockwell quality to some of Anderson’s works, Horse and Buggy is a prime example, with its easy-going trotting tune and string tremelos framing a scene of long-gone Americana. Home Stretch kicks up the speed to a fast gallop as a collection of thoroughbreds race for the finish line.

MUSIC: Anderson: Horse and Buggy performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559356, track 5] [3:46]

MUSIC: Anderson: Home Stretch performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559356, track 7] [2:48]

Two horsey pieces by Leroy Anderson. First we heard the lesisurely Horse and Buggy, then a musical race to the Home Stretch.

One little-known aspect of Leroy Anderson was his willingness to write music for beginning musicians. His piece Forgotten Dreams was originally conceived as a piano piece for beginners, but the more Anderson played with the theme, the more he felt it deserved development into an orchestral piece.

In the end, Anderson supplied the very attractive orchestral score, but it is up to you to remember the Forgotten Dreams.

MUSIC: Anderson: Forgotten Dreams performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559356, track 3] [2:25]

Forgotten Dreams by Leroy Anderson. You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and the theme for this hour is “More Leroy Anderson,” featuring two CDs released in 2008 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth in 1908.

One more original composition now by Leroy Anderson, after which I’ll demonstrate his incredible abilities as an arranger and orchestrator of tunes by other people. This is a waltz called Song of the Bells.

MUSIC: Anderson: Song of the Bells performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559356, track 14] [3:30]

Song of the Bells by Leroy Anderson. Next, as promised, two examples of Anderson’s gifts as an arranger and orchestrator. First his clever rendition of Old MacDonald Had a Farm, and then his John Philip Sousa-inspired take on Seventy-Six Trombones from The Music Man by Meredith Wilson.

MUSIC: Anderson (arr.): Old MacDonald Had a Farm performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559357, track 11] [3:16]

MUSIC: Wilson/arr. Anderson: 76 Trombones, the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin [Naxos 8.559357, track 12] [2:57]

Two arrangements by Leroy Anderson. First we heard Old MacDonald Had a Farm. Then Anderson’s orchestration of Meredith Wilson’s Seventy-Six Trombones from the Broadway musical, The Music Man. The BBC Concert Orchestra was conducted by Leonard Slatkin in this Naxos recording.

And that brings this hour of Compact Discoveries to a close. This is Fred Flaxman thanking you for listening. My thanks also to Richard Ginell for the program notes which I used for much of the information and some of the words I conveyed to you in this hour. The time was devoted almost entirely to two Naxos CDs released in connection with the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leroy Anderson.

If you missed any part of this program or would simply enjoy listening to it again, you can stream it on demand. Same goes for the first all-Leroy Anderson Compact Discoveries program. Just go to www.compactdiscoveries.com on the internet, then click on “Program Descriptions” and scroll down to programs 13 and 142. Click on “Listen Now” after the description of whichever program you want to hear and follow the online instructions. Really, all you need to remember is compactdiscoveries.com. It is a user-friendly site, so you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for easily from the home page.

MUSIC: Anderson: excerpt from Fiddle-Faddle performed by Leroy Anderson and His Orchestra [MCA Classics MCAD2-9815-A, track 8] [fades out]

This Compact Discoveries program is a presentation of WPVM, Asheville, North Carolina, a broadcast service of the Mountain Area Information Network.

ANNOUNCER [Steve Jencks]: Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by Story Books, publishers of The Timeless Tales of Reginald Bretnor, selected and edited by Fred Flaxman. Samples and ordering available at bretnor dot com, b-r-e-t-n-o-r dot com; and by Educate Yourself for Tomorrow, an on-line guide to 37 different Liberal Arts courses for personal development, including “Mozart and the Evolution of Western Music.” On the web at onlinehumanities.com.

Program Ends at 58:00




 
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