Classical WSMR
Arthur Fiedler, 1968

Salute to Arthur Fiedler

2019 marks the quasquicentennial anniversary of Arthur Fiedler’s birth. Fiedler, born in 1894, was the conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra for almost fifty years! The Sarasota Orchestra pays homage to him with a concert set to run from October 16th to 19th. The program includes light classic staples from Carl Maria von Weber and Ludwig Van Beethoven as well as musical themes from popular movies, such as The Godfather and Mary Poppins. The concert is part of the Sarasota Orchestra Great Escapes Series. 

Pops Orchestra Icon

Arthur Fiedler began his American musical career as a violist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra shortly after the outbreak of World War I. He pivoted to more conductorial roles by organizing a Boston Sinfonietta in 1924 and a series of outdoor esplanade concerts in 1929. Fiedler exuded charisma and had a penchant for attracting audiences. For many professional conductors, a popular music orchestra would be a stepping stone to a more prestigious station. Some conductors even looked down on popular music orchestras for their wide appeal and selection of music. Fiedler, however, began conducting for the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1930 and built a lifetime career of it.

Arthur Fiedler revolutionized the pops orchestra format with his charming performances and unusual repertoire. Fiedler utilized everything from Beethoven and Bach to The Beatles and the Bee Gees His last album, in fact, was titled Saturday Night Fiedler. Fiedler brought the concert hall to Middle America. He guest conducted with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra during their pop season from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. He also created a separate Boston Pops Orchestra which toured the United States and internationally.

Fiedler’s Legacy

Steven Jarvi profile

Steven Jarvi

In addition to his status as a cultural icon, Arthur Fiedler forged himself a lasting legacy through displays of virtue. Fiedler supported victims of the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire and, allegedly, rescued a few of them himself. He also conducted for the Boston Bicentennial Fourth of July celebration. That celebration drew an audience of 400,000 people. This emblazoned him onto American collective memory and no doubt helped earn him win numerous accolades. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977. The Sarasota Orchestra’s remembrance of Fiedler will be guest conducted by Steven Jarvi, the Interim Artistic Director of the Charlottesville Opera and Resident Conductor with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. 

For tickets and more information on this concert visit www.sarasotaorchestra.org