Arthur Fiedler

Arthur Fiedler

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Arthur Fiedler was a long-time conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra
Boston Pops Orchestra
The Boston Pops Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts, that specializes in playing light classical and popular music....

, a symphony orchestra that specializes in popular and light classical music. With a combination of musicianship and showmanship, he made the Boston Pops one of the best-known orchestras in the country. Some people criticized him for over-popularizing music, particularly when adapting popular songs or edited portions of the classical repertoire, but Fiedler kept performances informal and sometimes self-mocking to attract more customers.

Life and career


Fiedler was born in Boston, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 to Emanuel and Johanna Fiedler. His father was a Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

-born violinist who played in the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Boston Symphony Orchestra
The Boston Symphony Orchestra is an orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1881, the BSO plays most of its concerts at Boston's Symphony Hall and in the summer performs at the Tanglewood Music Center...

, and his mother was a pianist and musician. He grew up in Boston, and attended Boston Latin School
Boston Latin School
The Boston Latin School is a public exam school founded on April 23, 1635, in Boston, Massachusetts. It is both the first public school and oldest existing school in the United States....

 until his father retired (in the early 1900s), and they moved to Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, in 1910. The family soon moved again, to Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, where from 1911 to 1915 young Fiedler studied violin at the Royal Academy of Music
Berlin University of the Arts
The Universität der Künste Berlin, UdK is a public art school in Berlin, Germany, one of the four universities in the city...

 (Hochschule für Musik Berlin) under Willy Hess
Willy Hess (violinist)
Willy Hess was a German violin virtuoso and violin teacher.-Biography:Will Hess was born in Mannheim in 1859. He was a student of Joseph Joachim and he also studied with his father, who was a pupil of Louis Spohr....

. Fiedler returned to Boston at the beginning of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. In 1915 he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Karl Muck
Karl Muck
Karl Muck was a German-born conductor of classical music. He based his activities principally in Europe and mostly in opera. His American career comprised two stints at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He endured a public outcry in 1917 that questioned whether his loyalties lay with Germany or the...

 as a violinist. He also worked as a pianist, organist, and percussionist.

In 1924, Fiedler formed the Boston Sinfonietta, a chamber music
Chamber music
Chamber music is a form of classical music, written for a small group of instruments which traditionally could be accommodated in a palace chamber. Most broadly, it includes any art music that is performed by a small number of performers with one performer to a part...

 orchestra composed of Boston Symphony members, and started a series of free outdoor concerts.

Fiedler was appointed the eighteenth conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1930. While the position of conductor of the Boston Pops both prior to and after Fiedler tended to be a phase of a conductor's career, Fiedler made it his life's work, having the position for a half-century.

With Fiedler's direction, the Boston Pops reportedly made more recordings than any other orchestra in the world, most of them for RCA Victor, with total sales of albums, singles, tapes, and cassettes exceeding $50 million. His recordings began in July 1935 at Boston's Symphony Hall with RCA, including a world premiere recording of Jacob Gade
Jacob Gade
Jacob Thune Hansen Gade was a Danish violinist and composer, mostly of orchestral popular music....

's Jalousie, which eventually sold more than a million copies, and the first complete recording of Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin (with Jesús Maria Sanromá
Jesús Maria Sanromá
Jesús María Sanromá was a Puerto Rican pianist. He is considered by many to be one of the 20th century's most accomplished and important pianists.-Early years:...

 as soloist). In 1946, he conducted the Boston Pops in one of the first American recordings devoted to excerpts from a film score, Dmitri Tiomkin's music for the David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick was an American film producer. He is best known for having produced Gone with the Wind and Rebecca , both of which earned him an Oscar for Best Picture.-Early years:...

 Technicolor epic Duel in the Sun
Duel in the Sun
Duel in the Sun is a Technicolor 1946 Western film directed by King Vidor, produced and written by David O. Selznick, which tells the story of a Mestiza girl who goes to live with her Anglo relatives, becoming involved in prejudice and forbidden love...

; RCA Victor released an album of ten-inch 78-rpm discs complete with photographs from the film.

Fiedler's June 20, 1947, recording of Gaîté Parisienne
Gaîté Parisienne
Gaîté parisienne is a 1938 ballet based on music by Jacques Offenbach, arranged by Manuel Rosenthal. The ballet had the original title of Tortoni, after a Paris café, but Rosenthal recalled that Count Étienne de Beaumont, the ballet's librettist, later came up with the ballet's eventual...

by Jacques Offenbach
Jacques Offenbach
Jacques Offenbach was a Prussian-born French composer, cellist and impresario. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss, Jr....

 was eventually released by RCA as their very first long-playing classical album (RCA Victor LM-1001), in 1950. He recorded the same music in 1954 in stereo and began making regular stereo recordings in 1956. A number of Fiedler's recordings were released as 45-rpm "extended play" discs, beginning in 1949, such as Tchaikovsky's Marche Slave and Ketèlbey's In a Persian Market (RCA Victor ERA-2). Besides recording light classics, Fiedler also recorded music from Broadway shows and Hollywood film scores, as well as arrangements of popular music, especially the Beatles. He and the Boston Pops occasionally recorded classical works that were favorites, but not considered as "light" as most of the pieces that he conducted. He made but a single recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra: Dvorak
Antonín Dvorák
Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer of late Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style is sometimes called "romantic-classicist synthesis". His works include symphonic, choral and chamber music, concerti, operas and many...

's New World Symphony. There were also recordings of chamber music by his Sinfonietta. Fiedler and the Boston Pops recorded exclusively for RCA Victor until the late 1960s, when they switched to Deutsche Grammophon
Deutsche Grammophon
Deutsche Grammophon is a German classical record label which was the foundation of the future corporation to be known as PolyGram. It is now part of Universal Music Group since its acquisition and absorption of PolyGram in 1999, and it is also UMG's oldest active label...

 for classical releases with co-owned Polydor Records
Polydor Records
Polydor is a record label owned by Universal Music Group, headquartered in the United Kingdom.-Beginnings:Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used as an export label in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone...

 for his arrangements of pop music
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

 compositions and then London Records
London Records
London Records, referred to as London Recordings in logo, is a record label headquartered in the United Kingdom, originally marketing records in the United States, Canada and Latin America from 1947 to 1979, then becoming a semi-independent label....

. His last album, devoted to disco
Disco
Disco is a genre of dance music. Disco acts charted high during the mid-1970s, and the genre's popularity peaked during the late 1970s. It had its roots in clubs that catered to African American, gay, psychedelic, and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and...

, was titled Saturday Night Fiedler.

Fiedler was also associated with the San Francisco Pops Orchestra
San Francisco Pops Orchestra
The San Francisco Pops Orchestra is an orchestra in San Francisco.When the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1911, its first music director, Henry Hadley, began the tradition of "pops" concerts, devoted to lighter classics and special arrangements of music from operettas, musicals,...

 for 26 summers (beginning during 1949), and conducted many other orchestras throughout the world. He was a featured conductor on several of NBC's The Standard Hour
The Standard Hour
The Standard Hour was a weekly radio broadcast by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera carried on NBC radio stations on Sundays at 8:30 p.m. Pacific time. Like The Standard School Broadcast, the program was sponsored by Standard Oil of California...

programs in 1950 and 1951, conducting the San Francisco Symphony in the War Memorial Opera House; the performances were preserved on transcription discs and later released on audio cassette.


Fiedler had many different hobbies. He was fascinated by the work of firefighters and would travel in his own vehicle to large fires in and around Boston at any time of the day or night to watch the firefighters at work. He was even made an "Honorary Captain" in the Boston Fire Department. A number of other fire departments gave him honorary fire helmets and/or badges. The official biography of Fiedler reports that the conductor once helped in the rescue efforts at the tragic Cocoanut Grove fire
Cocoanut Grove fire
The Cocoanut Grove was Boston's premier nightclub during the post-Prohibition 1930s and 40s. On November 28, 1942, occurred the scene of what remains the deadliest nightclub fire, killing 492 people and injuring hundreds more...

 in Boston in 1942. An avid sailor, he volunteered during the early days of World War II for the Temporary Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard and was later a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Fiedler conducted at the nationally-televised opening ceremonies of Walt Disney World in 1971. He also appeared on numerous telecasts on Evening at Pops
Evening at Pops
Evening at Pops is one of the longest running programs on PBS. The program was a public television version of a variety show, hosted by a world-renowned orchestra, the Boston Pops...

, carried on PBS stations nationwide.

In honor of Fiedler's influence on American music, on October 23, 1976 he was awarded the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit. Beginning in 1964, this award "established to bring a declaration of appreciation to an individual each year that has made a significant contribution to the world of music and helped to create a climate in which our talents may find valid expression."

On January 10, 1977, Fiedler was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

 by President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

.

Personal Life


In 1942, Fiedler married Ellen Bottomley, and they had three children: Johanna
Johanna Fiedler
Johanna Fiedler was an American writer on music and publicist. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Fiedler was the daughter of Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler. In 1994 she published a memoir of her father, Arthur Fiedler: Papa, the Pops and Me. She was educated at Sarah Lawrence College...

, Deborah, and Peter.

In 1994, Doubleday published a book written by his daughter, Johanna, entitled Arthur Fiedler: Papa, the Pops and Me.

Death


Fiedler died in Brookline, Massachusetts
Brookline, Massachusetts
Brookline is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States, which borders on the cities of Boston and Newton. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town was 58,732.-Etymology:...

, at the age of 84 on July 10, 1979. He had been in failing health for some time and had suffered a heart seizure after a performance on May 5, 1979. At the time of his death, he was in his 50th year as conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. After his death, Boston honored him with a stylized sculpture, an oversized bust of Fiedler, near the Charles River Esplanade, and named a footbridge over Storrow Drive
Storrow Drive
Storrow Drive is a major cross town expressway in Boston, Massachusetts, running south and west from Leverett Circle along the Charles River. It is a parkway—it is restricted to cars; trucks and buses are not permitted on it...

 after him. This area is home of the free concert series that continues through the present day. Classical music and movie composer John Williams succeeded Fiedler as the orchestra's nineteenth director. His widow, Ellen Bottomley Fiedler, died October 25, 1984, in Framingham, Massachusetts. She was 70.

Sources


External links