The composer of this familiar Olympic theme was born on today's date in 1904 in Lyon, France. He was christened "Noel" Arnaud, but is better known as "Leo" Arnaud, the name he adopted after emigrating to the U.S.A. in the late 1930's.
Arnaud studied music in his native France with two of its leading composers, Vincent d'Indy and Maurice Ravel, before coming to America. Arnaud settled in Hollywood, where he worked as an orchestrator and arranger for numerous films, churning out scores for everything from "Blondie Goes Latin" to "The Ice Follies of 1939." The high point of Arnaud's cinematic career was an Oscar nomination for his work as an arranger for the 1964 musical "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."
Some years earlier, Hollywood Bowl conductor Felix Slatkin commissioned Arnaud to write some music for a LP sonic spectacular designed to show off the new "stereophonic" recording process.
The album was titled "Charge!" and featured military style fanfares and suites, and included a cut entitled "Bugler's Dream." The original 1958 album notes described this music as: "derived from various bugle calls—suggesting perhaps a slumbering bugler's thoughts as they swirl in a fantasy of classical fanfares and radically modern cadenzas."
In 1968, when ABC television was looking for a musical theme for its Olympic coverage, they chose "Bugler's Dream." By 1988, when the NBC network secured TV rights for the Olympics, Arnaud's theme had become the instantly recognizable signature theme for the games. Its composer, Leo Arnaud, died in Los Angeles in 1991.
Music Played in Today's Program
Leo Arnaud (1904 - 1991) Olympic Theme Cleveland Symphonic Winds; Frederick Fennell, cond. Telarc 80099
Meredith Willson (1902-1984) arr. Arnaud The Unsinkable Molly Brown Overture MGM studio orchestra CBS 45442
On This Day
1803 - French opera composer Adolph-Charles Adam, in Paris
1880 - Swiss-born American composer Ernest Bloch, in Geneva
1904 - French-born American composer and arranger Leo (Noël) Arnaud, in Lyon
1922 - American composer Leo Kraft, in New York City
1739 - Italian composer Benedetto Marcello, in Brescia
1971 - British composer Alan Rawsthorne, in Cambridge, England
1926 - Hindemith: Concert Music for Winds, Op. 4, in Donaueschingen, Germany, with Hermann Scherchen conducting
1938 - R. Strauss: opera, "Friedenstag" (Peace Day), in Munich at the National Theater, Clemens Krauss conducting, with vocal soloists Hans Hotter (Commandant) and Viorca Ursuleac (Maria);
1964 - Ginastera: opera, "Don Rodrigo," at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires
1983 - Elisabetta Brusa: "Favole" (Fables) for chamber orchestra, by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, George Hanson conducting
1995 - Michael Torke: opera "Strawberry Fields," at Cooperstown, N.Y., by the Glimmerglass Opera, Stewart Robinson conducting
1838 - Mendelssohn finishes in Berlin his String Quartet in D, Op. 44, no. 1; In a letter dated July 30 that year, he writes to the violinist Ferdinand David: "I have just finished my third Quartet, in D Major, and like it very much. I hope it may please you as well. I rather think it will, since it is more spirited and seems to me likely to be more grateful to the players than the others."
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About Composers Datebook®
Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.
He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.