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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Friday, July 24

Arnaud's after-the-fact Olympic tune

Synopsis

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

Additional Information

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