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Arthur Fiedler



Born: December 17, 1894; Boston, MA   Died: July 10, 1979; Brookline, MA  
A populist programmer, avuncular podium presence, and constant visitor to small-town concert halls and living room televisions, Arthur Fiedler personified orchestral music in America. He was less glamorous, less intellectual, and in many ways less respected than Leonard Bernstein, but those deficiencies worked to Fiedler's advantage in the minds of ordinary Americans. He also enjoyed greater longevity on his home turf -- nearly 50 years in the Read more national limelight, as opposed to Bernstein's one decade of unmatched glory in New York before running off to Europe to become another gray eminence. Fiedler's success, though, was also the source of some frustration; he was forever pigeonholed as a pops conductor.

He had studied violin with his father, Emanuel Fiedler, a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (as was Arthur's uncle Benny). In 1909 his father took him to Berlin to study violin with Willy Hess; young Arthur also took a class in chamber music with Ernst von Dohnányi and studied conducting. In 1913 he and two Fiedlers unrelated to him formed the Fiedler Trio. But he fled World War I in 1915, settling into the second-violin section of the BSO under Karl Muck. Fiedler later moved to the viola section, and doubled on celesta and other keyboard and percussion instruments. In 1924 he organized the 25-member Boston Sinfonietta (later known as the Arthur Fiedler Sinfonietta), drawn from members of the BSO, taking it on tour through New England.

In 1929 Fiedler started a series of free outdoor summer concerts at the Esplanade on the banks of Boston's Charles River, playing popular American music and light classical pieces. Soon the concerts attracted audiences in the thousands. The BSO noticed, and in 1930 engaged Fiedler to conduct the Boston Pops, succeeding Alfredo Casella. He remained with the Pops until his death, gaining the distinction of holding the longest music directorship of an American orchestra. For nearly half a century he maintained the Esplanade formula of popular music mixed with classics, some of them new but rather light works such as (Walton's Façade, Shchedrin's Carmen Ballet). Concert conditions were poor -- the audience was seated at tables, clinking beer glasses and pushing chairs around -- but Fiedler seemed to revel in the festive atmosphere.

He was a social animal, and he loved to ride on fire engines. Fiedler's antics were harmless and, indeed, contributed to his Everyman appeal, but his willingness to make commercial endorsements for everything from whisky to orange juice hurt his prestige in conservative Boston; he was never allowed to conduct in the BSO's regular subscription series (although he did record Dvorák's "New World" Symphony with the orchestra). Still, he was tremendously popular nationwide; he led pops concerts by the San Francisco Symphony from 1951 to 1978, and also began to make international appearances as a guest conductor in 1957. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, and a footbridge near the Esplanade bears his name.

Fiedler and the Boston Pops recorded from the 1950s through the 1970s with RCA records (with brief excursions to other labels toward the end), issuing disc after disc of classical overtures and ballet pieces, as well as arrangements of movie themes, Beatles hits, and other pop tunes. Pops concerts were packaged as fast-moving one-hour shows on the PBS television network. Critics usually ignored or snickered at Fiedler's handling of pop music, but they almost always approved of the verve he brought to light and not-so-light classics; indeed, his 1930s recording of a particular Beethoven overture was held in higher esteem than Toscanini's. Whether Fiedler's Beethoven Seventh could have stood up to Toscanini's will never be known. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 137 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    111 Classics for Christmas
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002179902 Release Date: 12/09/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Leroy Anderson,  Leopold Mozart,  Johnny Marks,  John Frederic Coots  ... 
    Performer:  Helen Donath,  Anna Reynolds,  Christa Ludwig,  Maria Teresa Garatti  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Karl Richter,  Stephen Cleobury,  Sir David Willcocks  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
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  • 2.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Christmas Lights
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5222 Release Date: 12/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Lowell Mason,  Irving Berlin,  Traditional,  Vogel  ... 
    Performer:  Zack Laurence
    Conductor:  Percy Faith,  Frank Chacksfield,  Billy Vaughn,  Ken Jones  ... 
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  • 3.
    Phase 4 Stereo - Stereo Concert Series
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002188302 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 41
    Composer:  John Philip Sousa,  Charles A. Zimmerman,  Francis S. Van Boskerck,  George Norton  ... 
    Performer:  Stanley Black,  David Parkhouse,  Alan Loveday,  Robert Merrill  ... 
    Conductor:  Rodney Bashford,  Stanley Black,  Bernard Herrmann,  Edward Downes  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grenadier Guards Band,  London Festival Orchestra,  London Festival Recording Ensemble  ... 
    On sale! $199.98
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  • 4.
    Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue; An American In Paris
    Label: Apo (Analogue Production Originals)   Catalog: 2367 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Earl Wild
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler
    On sale! $45.98
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  • 5.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection Vol 2
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 300350 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Byron Janis,  Gary Graffman,  Vladimir Horowitz  ... 
    Conductor:  Josef Krips,  Fritz Reiner,  Pierre Monteux,  Charles Munch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony of the Air,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $125.98
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  • 6.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection Vol 1
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 541497 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Jacques Ibert,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Berj Zamkochian,  John Weicher,  Philip Farkas,  Jascha Heifetz  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Arthur Fiedler  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  New England Conservatory Alumni Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $125.98
    CD: $103.99
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  • 7.
    Play It Again: Classic Sound Of Hollywood
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 303384 Release Date: 04/01/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Waxman,  Dimitri Tiomkin,  Daniele Amfitheatrof,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Gerhardt,  Maurice Jarre,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  Elmer Bernstein  ... 
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  • 8.
    Best Of Pops / Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops Orchestra
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 3580 Release Date: 07/02/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Jacob Gade,  Leroy Anderson,  Victor Young,  Meredith Willson  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
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  • 9.
    Label: Dynamic Nostalgia   Catalog: 3588 Release Date: 06/04/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Rodgers,  Sigmund Romberg,  Jerome Kern
    Performer:  Gordon MacRae,  Shirley Jones,  Jan Clayton,  John Raitt  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Rodgers,  Alfredo Antonini,  Robert Russell Bennett,  Ron Goodwin  ... 
    On sale! $29.95
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  • 10.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: A Glorious Century Of Light Music
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5200 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jerome Kern,  Vernon Duke,  Ron Goodwin,  Jule Styne  ... 
    Conductor:  Cyril Ornadel,  Paul Mauriat,  Ron Goodwin,  Annuncio Paolo Mantovani  ... 
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  • 11.
    Strauss Family Waltzes / Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 61688 Release Date: 07/07/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Josef Strauss,  Eduard Strauss
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
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  • 12.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Christmas Celebration
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5185 Release Date: 11/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  James Pierpont,  John Henry Hopkins Jr.,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Traditional  ... 
    Conductor:  Billy Vaughn,  Percy Faith,  George Melachrino,  Angela Morley  ... 
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  • 13.
    Celebrate America - Songs for the 4th of July
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001575202 Release Date: 06/21/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Stafford Smith,  Traditional,  Jay Ungar,  Woody Guthrie  ... 
    Conductor:  Eric Rodgers,  Frederick Fennell,  Jerold D. Ottley,  John T. Williams  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fife & Drum of the Eastman Wind Ensemble,  Duel,  Eastman Wind Ensemble  ... 
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  • 14.
    Gershwin / K. & M. Labeque, Chailly, Maazel, Cleveland Orchestra [7-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001546202 Release Date: 04/19/2011   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Robert Russell Bennett
    Performer:  Katia Labčque,  Marielle Labčque,  Ralph Votapek,  Peter Jablonski  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Arthur Fiedler,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  John Mauceri  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Boston Pops,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 15.
    Strauss Collection - Early Recordings On 78s (1901-1951)
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 1006/13 Release Date: 04/12/2011   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Spoken Word,  Josef Strauss,  Johann Strauss Sr.
    Performer:  Irene Eisinger,  Dajos Bela,  Barnabas Von Geczy,  Marcella Sembrich  ... 
    Conductor:  Clemens Krauss,  Howard Barlow,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Harry Horlick  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kölner Klavier-Trio
    On sale! $126.98
    CD: $107.49
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  • 16.
    The Cole Porter Songbook
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 58413 Release Date: 03/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Cole Porter
    Performer:  Anne Jeffreys,  Howard Keel,  Gogi Grant,  Lena Horne  ... 
    Conductor:  Henri René,  William Hill-Bowen,  Lennie Hayton,  Hugo Winterhalter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  William Hill-Bowen Orchestra,  Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 17.
    Bluebird - The Sampler
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 6389 Release Date: 01/28/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Various,  David Raksin
    Performer:  Charles Mingus,  J.J. Johnson,  Edward "Duke" Ellington,  Art Blakey  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 18.
    Arthur Fiedler's Sinfonietta
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 62571 Release Date: 12/17/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Stanley,  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Paul Hindemith  ... 
    Performer:  E. Power Biggs,  Paul Hindemith
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arthur Fiedler Sinfonietta
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  • 19.
    Stan Getz & Arthur Fiedler At Tanglewood
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 68703 Release Date: 12/17/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Carlos Jobim,  Eddie Sauter,  David Raksin,  Alec Wilder
    Performer:  Stan Getz
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 20.
    Heart & Soul - Celebrating The Unforgettable Songs Of Frank Loesser
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 70641 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frank Loesser,  James Francis McHugh,  Hoagy Carmichael,  Jule Styne
    Performer:  Michele Lee,  Vic Damone,  Johnny Mathis,  Doris Day  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Don Costa,  Frank De Vol,  Ray Ellis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  Frank De Vol Orchestra,  Ray Ellis Orchestra  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 21.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Highly Strung
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5166 Release Date: 06/08/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jack Mason,  Steve Race,  George French,  Carlos Rocha  ... 
    Performer:  Johnny Dankworth
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Eric Cook,  Eric Jupp,  Philippe Pages  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Knightsbridge Strings,  Music of the Mountains
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 22.
    The Voices Of Living Stereo Vol 2 / Lanza, Price, Et Al
    Label: Rca Victor Living Stereo   Catalog: 68167 Release Date: 03/11/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Franz Schubert,  Gustav Mahler,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Eileen Farrell,  Franz Rupp,  Marian Anderson,  Richard Lewis  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Robert Russell Bennett,  Fritz Reiner,  Charles Munch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 23.
    Bolero - Images Of Spain / Semkow, Fiedler, Maazel, Ozawa
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 413250 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Manuel de Falla
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Jerzy Semkow,  Lorin Maazel,  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 24.
    The Joy Of Christmas - Original Album Classics
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 756173 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Traditional,  Franz Xaver Gruber  ... 
    Performer:  Frank Monachino,  Davis Aiken,  Chet Allen,  Rosemary Kuhlmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  Thomas Schippers,  Arthur Fiedler,  Jerold Ottley
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Temple University Concert Choir,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  NBC Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 25.
    Christmas With Mozart
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 60121 Release Date: 11/01/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leopold Mozart,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Carl Weinrich,  Gunars Larsens,  Jan Milewski,  Alfred Steinauer  ... 
    Conductor:  Serge Koussevitzky,  Arthur Fiedler,  Rudolf Baumgartner,  Hans-Ludwig Hirsch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Orchestra Chamber Ensemble,  Boston Symphony Chamber Players
    On sale! $17.98
    ArkivCD $12.99
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