ARTHUR FIEDLER AND THE BOSTON POPS by Harry Ellis Dickson

ARTHUR FIEDLER AND THE BOSTON POPS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Violinist Dickson was Arthur Fiedler's assistant/associate conductor at the Boston Pops for decades, and--despite their ""love-hate relationship,"" some highly unflattering anecdotes, and a few attempts at psychological insight--this is a generally bland, mostly pleasant grab-bag of stories, statistics, and tributes. Dickson starts out with a brief biography of Fiedler's early life: his musical Boston family (though Arthur's musical enthusiasm came late), Berlin studies, BSO/violinist years, ascension to the Pops conductorship in 1930, handsome-bachelor days, and ""stormy"" marriage to much-younger, very Catholic Ellen. This leads to a consideration of his idiosyncrasies (manic frugality, constant insecurity) and his stoical, aloof home life. And, then, chapters on: Fiedler's populist crusade for outdoor, free concerts: his anti-snob, ""uncanny ability to create balanced programs"" (and to put them across with undignified gimmicks); his relationship with the orchestra (introverted, demanding); the roster of guest artists for the TV-version of Pops (Fiedler at sea with jazz, Fiedler mistaking Roberta Flack for a cleaning woman); his life on the road (he loved it); and the epic concerts that came with the Bicentennial and AF's Golden Anniversary. Throughout, Dickson seems genuinely ambivalent--affectionate and awed, sometimes appalled or wounded--but he never really comes to grip with Fiedler's problematic personality. Sketchy as biography, then, but a literate, occasionally amusing, and admirably un-worshipful scrapbook for open-minded fans.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1981
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin