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Classical Notes

A is for Anderson (Leroy Anderson)

Posted at 1:46 PM on October 27, 2006 by Rex Levang

Starting to make my way, on an irregular basis, through the musical alphabet, and leading off with Leroy Anderson, if only because the new Symphony magazine that just arrived today includes an affectionate tribute to him by Richard Dyer. (Symphony is published by the American Symphony Orchestra League -- unfortunately Dyer's article isn't online yet.)

Anderson is the composer of such pops-concerts stalwarts as "The Syncopated Clock," "Jazz Pizzicato," and the perennial holiday favorite "Sleigh Ride." When I was in college, my music-addicted buddies and I looked down on Leroy Anderson as the nadir of musical taste.

Well, times and fashions have changed, as Dyer's article suggests. One of Mark Morris's big hits is an Anderson-based ballet, and the Naxos label is preparing an edition of Anderson's complete works, presided over by no less than Leonard Slatkin.

Dyer's article includes an example of Anderson's humor. He played quite a few musical instruments: piano, organ, double bass, trombone, tuba and accordion. He once explained that he had only played the latter instrument for a short time, adding, "Probably a short time is just about the right time to play the accordion."