Leroy Anderson born in 1908. July is right around the corner (see it up ahead, peeking around that building?) so now is a perfect to mention Anderson's famous "Sleigh Ride" piece--so I will: [mention]"Sleigh Ride"[/mention].
He (Leroy) wrote many avant garde tunes with cryptic titles such as "Plink, Plank, Plunk!" and "Fiddle-faddle" and "Blue Tango". What was he REALLY trying to say, Hmmmm? (Everybody knows that tangos aren't blue, they're...hey, what color IS a tango?) His composition "The Typewriter" originally used a, surprise!, typewriter in front of an orchestra, but now conductors opt for tablets, which, honestly, just don't click with me. (Please don't make me explain that pun.) Anderson was the most played composer by symphony orchestras in the 1950s, but honestly, when was the last time you saw "Fiddle-faddle" on a symphony concert program? When was the last time you saw a symphony concert program?
Two years after Anderson's birth (what a segue-way!) Frank Loesser's birthday. One of our popular song and Broadway musical superstars, his song Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition has the dubious distinction (well it has more than one actually) of being the first hit song of World War II. His musical Guys and Dolls is one of the standards of the genre, as they say (usually in a pinched, know-it-all voice), although the plot is pretty dorky if you ask me. Great songs though, can't be denied. You do know that Marlon Brando was in the movie version, don't you? (NO, he did NOT play the Salvation Army girl, very funny!) Frank (Loesser, not Brando) also was instrumental in getting Merideth Willson to write The Music Man. (I'm not explaining that "instrumental" pun to you either, don't bother asking.) Frank also wrote Baby It's Cold Outside, also worth a mention here in the middle of summer. [mention]"Baby it's etc"[/mention]
One year later (we're up to 1911), Bernard Herrmann, film scorer extraordinaire (that's hard to say) starts his career, as a human. His musical career began a bit later working with Orson Welles as a composer. Citizen Kane was his first movie score, talk about lucky break. But who will ever (I mean ever) forget Bernard's melodic and lilting use of the gentle string orchestra (violins, violas, cellos, huge knives) in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho? Perhaps the most famous unhummable film melody that everybody hums--and everyone recognizes. Lucky break number two for Herrmann. His third break, lucky or not, was dying the next day after completing his score for Scorsese's Taxi Driver. (You could say he went straight from composing to decomposing, but please don't.) I think Martin Scorsese liked Herrmann's work, but they never collaborated again. Perhaps it was chemistry.