A musical legacy

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I’m a longtime fan of Anderson’s works, partly because they form a virtual soundtrack to my life. I grew up in a house full of ticking clocks. I’ve made my living with the typewriter (and now the computer keyboard). We even lived for many years with a cat, although as far as I could tell she never waltzed.

“Leroy Anderson’s legacy is alive and well in many ways,” Republican-American, “Living Here,” Sunday, February 19, 2012

Leroy Anderson, composer of such delightful short works as “The Syncopated Clock,” “The Typewriter,” and “The Waltzing Cat,” is a local hero in Woodbury, Connecticut, where he lived for many years. I never met the man, who died in 1975, but over the years I did correspond with his widow. Eleanor Anderson spent the remainder of her life promoting the legacy of the man and his music.

At the time of this 2012 column, shortly before her death in 2014, Eleanor Anderson was passing the torch to the next generation. The family established the Leroy Anderson Foundation in 2010 to promote the composer’s musical legacy. It started with educational programs, archives, and exhibits, including one in the family homestead. It was her dream to have the home named to the National Register of Historic Places and opened to the public as a museum.

Forgotten dream

I lost track of the Anderson Foundation after that, but those dreams came true.

National Register designation came later in 2012. The National Park Service listed the house for its notable architecture and its association with a “person of prominence” in the Performing Arts. In 2018 Woodbury’s zoners approved the home, in a residential section of town, to operate under limited hours as a museum. It could be open to the public and offer concerts seasonally. Later, the town relaxed its limitations and permitted its operation year-round.

A bit of serendipity—a flyer in the Woodbury Library—brought it back to our attention. We learned that the house was to be open on three weekends in January, so we made an appointment.

It was like visiting an old friend. We went to the front door and rang the doorbell. Rolf Anderson, son of Leroy and Eleanor, ushered us into the spacious living room. There we chatted about the family, the music, local notables, and the concerts the Foundation has sponsored there over the last few years.

Later we toured the study, the soundproof composing room, and the exhibits room in what was once the family’s downstairs games room.

The Leroy Anderson House is on the National Register of Historic Places as linked to a notable person of the Performing Arts (the composer) and an example of Mid-Century Modern architecture, the first residence by Joseph Stein. Photo courtesy the Leroy Anderson Foundation.

Then, as two other visitors arrived, we took our leave with intentions to come back in the spring for the next concert.

We returned home and talked with our own next-generation members about our visit. That’s when we realized the importance of the Anderson Foundation’s work. Many young adults today are not interested in orchestral music, even the so-called “pops.” Some of our next-gen knew of Anderson through my own interest. Others had never heard of the man or his works, not even “Sleigh Ride!”

Stay tuned for more …

Want to read more of the column quoted here? You can, online, at Newslibrary.com. Under Advanced Search, search for “Howard Fielding” in All Text, “Republican-American” in Source, and “Leroy Anderson” in All Text.

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