Fiedler, Arthur

Fiedler, Arthur,

1894–1979, American conductor, b. Brookline, Mass. Fiedler, who ultimately became a grandfatherly American musical icon, studied violin with his father, a member of the Boston Symphony OrchestraBoston Symphony Orchestra,
founded in 1881 by Henry Lee Higginson, who was its director and financial backer until 1918. The orchestra performed at the Old Boston Music Hall for nearly 20 years until the 2,625-seat Symphony Hall was built in 1900; its concerts continue to be
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. He continued his musical studies in Berlin (1909–15), becoming a violinist (and later a violist) with the Boston Symphony upon his return to the United States. He founded the Boston Sinfonietta in 1924, and in 1929 inaugurated an enormously popular series of free outdoor summer concerts of light American and European music featuring musicians from the Symphony. The following year Fiedler was appointed conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, with whom he performed classical pieces pleasing to general audiences. During the nearly 50 years that he led the group he also appeared as guest conductor with a number of major American symphonies. His spirited style, lively musicality, and the appealingly informal atmosphere in which he presented his concerts made Fiedler his era's great popularizer of light classical music. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.


See his daughter's biography-autobiography, Arthur Fiedler: Papa, the Pops and Me (1994) by Johanna Fiedler.

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Fiedler, Arthur

(1894–1979) conductor; born in Boston, Mass. Trained as a violinist in Boston and Berlin, he joined the Boston Symphony (1915–30), first playing violin, then viola. Determined to conduct, he founded his own chamber orchestra, the Boston Sinfonietta, in 1924. In 1929 he launched the Esplanade summer series, free concerts by the Boston Symphony, along the Charles River. In 1930 he took over the Boston Pops Orchestra and for almost a half century he was the most beloved conductor of light-classical music in the U.S.A. Active in promoting music through various mediums, he was also made an honorary fire chief because of his practice of chasing every major fire, day or night, and became a familiar figure to Bostonians at the scene of the fires.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.