ARTHUR FIEDLER Biography - Craftmen, artisans and people from other Occupations


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Name: Arthur Fiedler                                                                 
Born: 17 Decenber 1894                                                               
Died: 10 July 1979                                                                   
Arthur Fiedler (December 17, 1894 - July 10, 1979) was the long-time conductor       
of the Boston Pops Orchestra, a symphony orchestra that specialized in popular       
music. With a combination of musicianship and showmanship, he made the Pops one     
of the best-known orchestras in the country. Some criticized him for watering       
down music, particularly when adapting popular songs or edited portions of the       
classical repertoire, but Fiedler deliberately kept performances informal, light,   
and often self-mocking to attract more listeners.                                   
Fiedler was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His father was an Austrian-born           
violinist who played in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and his mother was a         
pianist and musician. He grew up in Boston, and attended Boston Latin School         
until his father retired and returned to Austria, where he studied and worked       
until returning to Boston at the start of World War I. In 1909, his father took     
him to Berlin to study violin with Willy Hess, and then in 1915 he joined the       
Boston Symphony Orchestra under Karl Muck as a violinist. He also worked as a       
pianist, organist, and percussionist.                                               
In 1924, Fiedler formed the Boston Sinfonietta, a chamber music orchestra made       
up of Boston Symphony members, and started a series of free outdoor concerts. He     
was appointed the eighteenth conductor of the Boston Pops in 1930. While             
conducting the Pops both prior to and after Fiedler tended to be a segment of a     
conductor's career, Fiedler made the Pops his life's work, holding the position     
for a half-century.                                                                 
Under 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 Gade's Jalousie, which eventually sold over a million         
copies, and the first complete recording of Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin     
(with Jesús Maria Sanromá as soloist). His June 20, 1947, recording of Gaîté     
Parisienne by Jacques Offenbach was eventually released by RCA as their very         
first long-playing classical album (LM-1001), in 1950. He recorded the same         
music in 1954 in stereo and began making regular stereo recordings in 1956.         
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, such as Dvorak's New World Symphony. There were also             
recordings of chamber music by his Sinfonietta. Fiedler and the Pops recorded       
exclusively for RCA Victor until the late 1960s, when they switched to Polydor       
and then London Records.                                                             
Fiedler was also associated with the San Francisco Pops Orchestra for 26 summers     
(beginning in 1949), and conducted many other orchestras throughout the world.       
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Fiedler and Wernher von Braun in his office during the           
Fiedlers' visit to the Marshall Space Flight Center on March 23, 1962.               
As a hobby, 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 Coconut Grove     
fire in Boston in 1942.                                                             
Fiedler conducted at the nationally-televised opening ceremonies of Walt Disney     
World in 1971. He also appeared on numerous telecasts on "Evening at Pops,"         
carried on PBS stations nationwide.                                                 
Fiedler died in Brookline, Massachusetts, at the age of 84 on July 10th, 1979.       
He had been in failing health for sometime, and had actually suffered a heart       
attack after a performance on Saturday evening, May 1st, 1979. He was in his 50th   
year as conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra when he died. After his death,       
Boston honored him with an abstract sculpture, an oversized bust of Fiedler,         
near the Charles River Esplanade, home of the free concert series that continues     
through the present day. John Williams took the post for the following year.         
Preceded by                                                                         
various Conductor, Boston Pops Orchestra