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From the Vaults: Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops

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With the modern pops concert undergoing vast changes, it's instructive to consider the legacy of Arthur Fiedler. Conductor of the Boston Pops from 1930 to 1979, Fiedler defined the modern pops concert. This WQXR concert broadcast of the Boston Pops was recorded in 1965.

A quintessential example of the Pops sound and style under Fiedler, this program, recorded at Symphony Hall, features music by Saint-Saens, Glinka, Morton Gould, Aaron Copland, Henri Vieuxtemps, Victor Herbert, Leroy Anderson and Earnest Gold. In a performance of Copland's Lincoln Portrait, Fiedler's wife, Ellen Bottomley Fiedler, is the narrator.

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About Arthur Fiedler

Born in 1894 to a Boston Symphony violinist and a piano teacher, young Arthur found practicing a chore, but was driven nonetheless. After attending conservatory and working at music publishing houses in his family's native Austria, Fiedler joined the Boston Symphony as a violinist, though he went on to play several parts in the orchestra. His conducting of the Boston Sinfonietta, a chamber group of musicians from the symphony, took off and he became a proponent of free outdoor concerts for the everyman.

Despite his illustrious conducting career between 1930 and his death in 1979, Fiedler never earned as much respect as the conductors of purer classical fare like Toscanini and Bernstein. His programs typically contained one serious work surrounded by lighter fare. The Pops produced more recordings under Fiedler than any other contemporary orchestra. A 1930's recording of a Beethoven overture sold one million copies and some estimates place the sale of Boston Pops recordings at a whopping total of 50 million records.