Arthur Fiedler: Papa, the Pops and Me

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9780385423915: Arthur Fiedler: Papa, the Pops and Me
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Arthur Fiedler's daughter writes a personal memoir of her father, world-famous musician and conductor of the Boston Pops who died in 1979. The story chronicles her family life in detail, describing what it was like to grow up in an unhappy family as the daughter of this curmudgeonly, complex, and sometimes cruel man, as well as deftly rendering the typically East Coast social milieu of metropolitan Boston during the 1950s and 60s. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The daughter of Boston's beloved maestro transposes the familiar laments of a star's adult child into the world of classical music. In the course of his 50-year tenure as conductor of the Boston Pops orchestra, Arthur Fiedler emerged as a true celebrity. Beyond his musical flair and dashing appearance, he exhibited a knack for marketing. He made his reputation by organizing America's first annual series of free outdoor symphony orchestra concerts on Boston's Charles River Esplanade. On taking over the Pops in 1930, he built a national following, and in his last decades, the PBS ``Evening at Pops'' television broadcasts cemented his fame. The Arthur Fiedler whom the public adored, however, turns out-- surprise!--to have distanced himself from his family, immersing himself in his career and continuing to live the high life while on tour. When at home, he would show himself to be misanthropic, miserly, and alcoholic. Fiedler fille details in a clear style how this behavior impeded her personal growth. After a withdrawn, troubled childhood, she came to have difficulties of her own with alcohol and searched into adulthood for a father figure--for instance, dating musicians, some ``hand-picked'' by her father, all with forceful, dominating personalities like his. Her complaints against Fiedler pŠre seem valid, but the dysfunctional Fiedler family nevertheless strikes the reader as having been more typical of the mid-century upper middle class than traumatic in the ``Daddy Dearest'' vein. More intriguing sections of her book narrate her family's singular accomplishments: her grandfather's emigration from Austria to join the Boston Symphony, her father's navigation of the tides of cultural politics and of nationalist sentiment during WW I, and his endeavors to prove his mettle as a serious artist. That he loved dogs, fire engines, and women while hating children is, in the end, relatively uninteresting. Only Fiedler enthusiasts and habitu‚s of the classical music scene will want to wade through the run-of-the-mill pop psychologizing featured here. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

The oldest daughter of the founder/conductor of the long-lived and immensely popular Boston Pops concerts has written a memoir that is at once touching and appallingly frank. For Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979), despite his dashing, twinkly appearance and bluff, avuncular persona, was a very difficult man. He lived for his music, the constant touring and national acclaim-more akin to that granted to a pop singer than an orchestra conductor-but at home was depressed, irritable, censorious. He and his wife both drank heavily, she eventually to her death, and family occasions among the Fiedlers-the author has a younger sister and brother-were the very model of dysfunctionalism. But the interest in the book is clearly centered on the very strange career of the author's lionized father. Beginning as a viola player in the Boston Symphony, he pioneered concerts of light classics at the end of the 1920s. These became institutions in Boston, then through radio, recordings and ultimately TV, became internationally famous. Fiedler, presenting undemanding programs, including skillful arrangements of popular and movie music, beautifully played by crack musicians, introduced more Americans to "classical" music than any other performer. Although he always yearned to be taken seriously as a musician, his adoring public would have none of it and even the BSO, whose coffers Fielder greatly enriched, was sniffy toward his pops concerts-amazingly, he received no pay raise in 40 years. He will be remembered as a solid musician ever capable of sprightly, effective performances, but one worshipped out of all proportion to his accomplishments. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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