If you’re of our generation, how can you let Independence Day pass and not think about Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops playing Stars and Stripes Forever?
And I might also say that even if you think you don’t care for classical music, that doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment to pause and think about lots of past July 4th’s, and how – if you were in Boston or near a TV set anywhere – you could watch Fiedler and the orchestra bring everybody to a standing ovation as he regaled the audience with his rousing and rambunctious rendition. (Alliteration – I love it.) And of course, while they played, the fireworks finale formed a spectacular backdrop.
The Boston Pops is actually composed of musicians from the Boston Symphony, but has sold a lot more records than its more dignified parent…in fact, the Pops has made more recordings than any other orchestra in the world.
Fiedler, whose father and uncle were both musicians in the Boston Symphony, joined the orchestra as a violinist after his service in World War I, and was named conductor of the Pops in 1930. He remained in that position until his death in to 1979 – a stretch of almost fifty years. (He was succeeded by John Williams, who became a success in his own right but who went through a rough patch in the early days when many orchestra members rebelled against his leadership. It’s always tough to follow a legend.)