ARTHUR FIEDLER by Johanna Fiedler

ARTHUR FIEDLER

Papa, the Pops, and Me
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 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 After a withdrawn, troubled childhood, she came to have difficulties of her own with alcohol and searched into adulthood for a father figure--for instance, dating musicians,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 päre 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 habituÇs of the classical music scene will want to wade through the run-of-the-mill pop psychologizing featured here.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1994
ISBN: 0-385-42391-8
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1994