Film Music in Concert

The Pioneering Role of the Boston Pops Orchestra

Emilio Audissino, 2021

Cambridge University Press, 2021

The Boston Pops Orchestra was the first orchestra of its kind in the USA: founded in 1885 from the ranks of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, its remit was to offer concerts of light symphonic music. Over the years, and in particular during the fifty-year tenure of its most famous conductor, Arthur Fiedler, the Pops established itself as the premier US orchestra specialising in bridging the fields of ‘art music’ and ‘popular music’. When the Hollywood composer John Williams was assigned the conductorship of the orchestra in 1980, he energetically advocated for the inclusion of film-music repertoire, changing Fiedler’s approach significantly.

This new publication in the series ‘Cambridge Elements: Music since 1945’ offers a historical survey of the pioneering agency that the Boston Pops had under Williams’s tenure in the legitimisation of film music as a viable repertoire for concert programmes. The case study is complemented with more general discussions on the aesthetic of film music in concert and features twelve figures from the programmes and photos collection of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives.