The world-famous creator of the Christmas standard Sleigh Ride, Leroy Anderson was the eclectic assimilator of many and diverse styles. Still remembered with affection from regular airings on radio, in their notable acoustic effects his works, which show at least superficial kinship to those of David Rose and Robert Farnon, were mini-programmatic scenes of twentieth-century life which transcended the boundaries of conventional salon music. Reflecting the author’s vast musical culture they drew on, and often parodied, accepted classical forms, contemporary jazz and dance trends and the works of Gershwin, Aaron Copland and other popular composers. His fine feeling for melody and orchestration, underpinned by inventive and wry-humoured, tongue-in-cheek social commentary, is perhaps best illustrated in The Typewriter (1950), whose unconventional orchestration evokes prim secretaries slaving away in the typing pool.
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 29th June 1908, the composer, arranger and conductor Leroy Anderson benefited from a comfortable, middle class East Coast upbringing. Immersed from an early age in classical music, he was actively encouraged by his mother, a noted organist, who gave him his first piano lessons. Precociously interested in several instruments, he also studied both piano and organ with Henry Gideon at the New England Conservatory and double-bass with Gaston Dufresne in Boston. From 1926 Anderson attended Harvard University where, an outstandingly multi-talented student, he studied theory with Walter Spalding (1865-1962), counterpoint with Edward Ballantine (1886-1971) and composition and harmony with George Enesco (1881-1955) and Walter Piston (1894-1976), receiving his B.A in 1929 and M.A. in 1930.
Prolonged by post-graduate studies in German and Scandinavian philology, Anderson’s association with Harvard was to last until the mid-1930s. Organist and choirmaster to the university from 1929 until 1935, he was until 1932 simultaneously a tutor in music at Radcliffe College and until 1935 musical director of the University Band. Having worked free-lance as an organist and conductor in and around Boston, he was by 1935 already an experienced dance-band arranger and orchestral bass-player when he forsook the security of academia to arrange for Arthur Fiedler’s Boston Pops Orchestra and from 1936 he also worked professionally in this capacity in both Boston and New York, before finally emerging as a composer in his own right of short, witty orchestral trifles, beginning with Jazz Pizzicato (1938) and Jazz Legato (1939).
In 1942 Anderson began a four-year stint in the United States Army. This, however, did not significantly interrupt his work as a writer-arranger for Fiedler, and by the end of the war he had published under his own name the first of the long series of clever, picturesquely-styled "mini-programmes" which earned him global renown. The first of these, Promenade, appeared in 1945, to be followed the next year by The Syncopated Clock, his first Golden Disc and US charted hit, at No.11, during 1951, for Anderson’s own ‘Pops’ Concert Orchestra. Later still this became a song with words added by the Shreveport, Louisiana-born lyricist Mitchell Parish (1900-1993). Fiddle Faddle, a 1947 syncopation for string orchestra, was immediately out-fiddled by Serenata, the lush melody and underlying mock-Hispanic rhythm of which made it, by 1950, another ideal song vehicle for Parish, while in 1948 Sleigh Ride, his biggest hit to date, for which, again by 1950, Parish had written lyrics, Governor Bradford March and the baroque-style Sarabande established his name in the light classical market.
A Trumpeter’s Lullaby (1949) was followed in 1950 by The Waltzing Cat, also turned into a song, the following year, by Parish, and in 1951 by The Belle of the Ball, a song, with Parish, by 1953, China Doll, Horse and Buggy, The Penny Whistle Song, The Phantom Regiment, Plink, Plank, Plunk!, an essay in pizzicato for strings, and his biggest seller of all The Blue Tango. After appearing in the charts in the United States in a creator disc by the Anderson ‘Pops’ orchestra for 38 weeks, including five at No.1, this catchiest, most whistlable, of numbers had become yet another Parish song conversion by 1952.
Throughout the 1950s, Anderson’s output was regular and of consistent quality. The Girl in Satin, The Song of the Bells and Summer Skies all appeared in 1953; Bugler’s Holiday, The First Day of Spring, Forgotten Dreams, with a Parish vocal version in 1962, and Sandpaper Ballet in 1954. His Suite of Carols, published in 1955 in various instrumental configurations, was followed in 1957 by a well-received orchestral adaptation of Meredith Willson’s 76 Trombones, and in 1958 he scored his one and only Broadway musical Goldilocks. Starring Elaine Stritch and Don Ameche, this took Tony Awards but, at 161 performances and an estimated financial loss of $360,000, was far from a roaring success, notwithstanding a fine original cast album.
By 1962 Anderson had returned to the more lucrative light music market with further short orchestral pieces including Arietta, Balladette, The Captains and the Kings, Clarinet Candy and his late flowering was spurred in 1970 with The Golden Years, Lullaby of the Drums, Waltz around the Scale and March of the Two Left Feet. Indeed, at the time of his death in Woodbury, Connecticut, on 18th May 1975, his many works, albeit often derivative, were standard mood music tools to radio, television and Muzak programmers. Nowadays, an Anderson composition will still be instantly recognised by thousands who have probably forgotten his name.
America’s favourite "Pops" conductor, Richard Hayman is Principal "Pops" Conductor of the Saint Louis, Hartford and Grand Rapids symphony orchestras, of Orchestra London Canada and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and also held that post with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for many years. His original compositions are standards in the repertoire of these ensembles as well as frequently-performed selections of many orchestras and bands throughout the world.
For over 30 years, Richard Hayman served as the chief arranger for the Boston Pops Orchestra during Arthur Fiedler’s tenure, providing special arrangements for dozens of their hit albums and famous singles. Under John Williams’ direction, the orchestra continues to program his award-winning arrangements and orchestrations. During the past several years, Richard Hayman has been concentrating most of his time on guest-conducting special "Pops" concerts. He is reinvited, season after season, by all the leading orchestras across the United States and Canada, to conduct these popular entertainments during their regular seasons, as well as for their summer festivals.
Now residing in New York City, Richard Hayman’s work is in constant demand, in every medium of musical expression, from Boston to Hollywood. Though more involved with the symphony orchestra circuit, he has served as musical director and/or master of ceremonies for the tour shows of many popular entertainers: Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Olivia Newton-John, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Carpenters, The Osmonds, AI Hirt, Andy Williams and many others.
Richard Hayman and His Orchestra have been presented in 23 albums and 27 hit singles by Mercury Records, for which he served as musical director for 12 years. Dozens of his original compositions have been recorded by various artists all over the world. He has also arranged and conducted recordings for more than 50 stars of the motion picture, stage, radio and television world, and has also scored Broadway shows and numerous motion pictures.
In 1960, Richard Hayman was honored with his own star in Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Other awards have included a Certificate of Recognition from Cosmopolitan magazine for Achievement in Bettering Popular Music, the Edison Award for Creative Achievement in Recorded Arts from the Academy of Musical Recorded Arts and Sciences and the National TV Festival and Forum Award.
For Naxos International, Richard Hayman will record some ten compact discs every year ranging from the music of Leroy Anderson to the Best of John Williams and theme programmes such as Love Is A Many-Splendoured Thing, Viva España and others.
ReviewsThe sound is good (the recording dates from 1989), the performances affectionate and enthusiastic. - Patrick O'Connor, Gramophone, July 2002