The Story of Leroy Anderson

In this Christmas special, Tim Lihoreau celebrates the life and music of this fascinating light music composer.

Almost everyone knows Leroy Anderson's famous Sleigh Ride, a familiar piece at this time of the year. The Boston Pops Orchestra's recording of it was the first purely orchestral piece to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Music chart. 

But did you know it was not written as Christmas music, but simply a piece that describes a winter event. Anderson started working on it during a heat wave in August 1946. 

But there's much more to Leroy Anderson than his sparkling compositions.

He was a superb linguist who was fluent in English, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, German, French, Italian, and Portuguese. In the Army, he was assigned in Iceland with the U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps as a translator and interpreter. Later he was reassigned to the Pentagon as Chief of the Scandinavian Desk of Military Intelligence. 

However his duties did not prevent him from composing, leading the great movie composer John Williams to describe Anderson as "one of the great American masters of light orchestral music."

In this special Christmas programme, Classic FM's breakfast host Tim Lihoreau takes an entertaining journey through the life of this fascinating composer.