Have you seen the typewriter concerto?

Have you seen the typewriter concerto?


norman lebrecht

August 06, 2021

You may find it hard to erase.


  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    This used to be a common number on American pops concerts but over time it’s gone out of fashion.

    Perhaps because the younger generations don’t know what a typewriter is.

    • Petros LInardos says:

      Light classics in general are going out of fashion. I cherish a delightful CD with Sir Thomas Beecham conducting his “lolipops”. It’s a pity it feels so much like a relic from the past.

  • Bill Ecker says:

    Arthur Fiedler used to run this with the Boston Pops all the time. I even heard Leroy Anderson perform on the typewriter a few times in those performances. A charming piece.

  • MusicBear88 says:

    Leroy Anderson was from Boston and this and many of his other pieces have long been favorites at the Pops.

  • Type-cast says:

    This is Leroy Anderson’s “The Typewriter,” written in 1950. It has been a staple of Boston Pops concerts, as well as of many other Pops orchestras, for over a half-century. Many notable soloists have lent their personalities to crowd-pleasing “interpretations” of the solo part over the years.

  • J Barcelo says:

    Wonderful! It’s really sad how Anderson’s joyful, tuneful and clever music has disappeared from American concert halls and pops concerts. Is there any major conductor other than the great Leonard Slatkin who takes it seriously?

    • Scott says:

      Ivan Fischer!

    • Herbie G says:

      J Barcelo, happily Naxos has recorded five volumes of Anderson’s works on Naxos, conducted by Leonard Slatkin. I think you might be referring to this. There’s another CD from Naxos of Anderson himself conducting, including the rarely heard Irish Suite. The man was a genius and yes, it’s a pity that his works are not heard more often. I’d prefer Radio 3 playing this kind of thing all day rather than some of the facile and forgettable snippets that they churn out for most of the time in a desperate attempt to get bums on seats.

  • millennial says:

    What’s a typewriter?

  • Richard says:

    This piece by Leroy Anderson (of Sleighride fame) has been included in numerous lighter concerts over the years both here in the UK, in the USA and elsewhere.


    Dare I suggest this as an item for the 2022 New Years Day concert from Vienna?

  • Kurt Anderson says:

    The work is “The Typewriter” and it has a wikipedia listing:


    The typist uses two keys on opposite sides of the typewriter so there is less chance of the typebars from hitting each other and getting stuck.

    When Leroy Anderson appeared in 1972 on PBS’s “Evening At Pops” with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops he said: “You know it’s an interesting thing, because I’ve written pieces like “The Typewriter” which you just heard, and about clocks, not the regular kind but the syncopated kind, a lot of people associated this, because they happen to know the number, with the music I write, and I’ve been told that people say, Oh, Anderson, he just writes these pieces for noises, you know, about clocks and that sort of thing, and of course this isn’t true, actually most of the pieces I’ve written have been melodic, because I happen to like melodic music, and I’m very glad that Arthur Fiedler’s favorite piece, he told me, happens to be “Serenata”, which is a serenade, and because it’s in Latin style I called it “Serenata.”

  • drummerman says:

    NL, this was composed in 1950. It’s quite well known in the USA, has been a long time staple of Boston Pops concerts, for example. Great fun!

  • SlippedChat says:

    “The Typewriter” is by the American pops composer Leroy Anderson who, among many compositions, also wrote “sound effects” works for chafing sandpaper blocks and a syncopated clock.




  • Tom Melody says:

    Not a concerto, but a cute little piece from the great Leroy Anderson (1908-75). John Williams described him as “one of the great American masters of light orchestral music.”

  • KMP says:

    Leroy Anderson (Sleigh Ride usw.)

  • John Borstlap says:

    I tried to find this funny, but it seems I am too much of an adult for such an effort.

    The first use of the type writer as a ‘musical instrument’ is found in Satie’s Parade (at 1:02):


    Parade was premiered in 1917, in the midst of WW I. Also this is supposed to be funny, but I cannot find it funny at all.

    It was the second attempt at sonic art (the first attempt was by the Italian Futurists at a ‘concert’ in 1914). In the twenties, Varèse – understanding the limitations of his musical talent – continued the development with writing for ‘noise instruments’ and with a deadly serious intention, with pieces that sound like ‘an accident in a boiler factory’ as one of the critics remarked at the time.

    Parade was a scandal because of the grotesque nonsense during a very tragic time. Debussy, old friend of Satie, dragged himself to the premiere (he was already mortally ill) and thought the whole thing was nothing more than a joke, which deeply wounded Satie, who broke with him.

  • Anonymous Bosch says:

    This piece actually dates to 1950, composed by Leroy Anderson, an American composer of “light orchestral music” with close ties to the Boston Pops. I recall seeing “The Typewriter” performed on TV – perhaps at a Pops concert or something like “The Ed Sullivan Show”.

    Anderson wrote a fair amount of orchestral music, songs for a Broadway musical, and hit pop tunes such as “The Syncopated Clock” and “Blue Tango” which I remember from my very distant youth.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    And in not too many years – maybe we’re almost there now — nobody will know what that “thing” is that makes the sounds or why Leroy Anderson’s piece is clever. I do recall that Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, who programmed this piece a lot, came up with a bit of shtick that was funny mainly only if you knew how a typewriter worked, or knew how the piece was supposed to go — they’d reverse one of the “bell then start a new line” sequences and Fiedler would pretend to “glare” at the typewriter player.

    On a somewhat (but not very) more serious note, Fiedler also programmed a genuine concerto for tap dancer and orchestra. Complete with cadenza! Composer was Morton Gould if memory serves.

    • fflambeau says:

      David Nelson, How can it be “Leroy Anderson’s piece” and composed by “Morton Gould?” You obviously cut and pasted something you didn’t understand. It was composed by Leroy Anderson.

      • Marfisa says:

        His memory is perfect: the tap-dance concerto was by Morton Gould (1952, I think). Here is a Youtube performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYQ8P8e9CWw

      • David K. Nelson says:

        Re-read what I wrote fflambeau. N.L. called it a concerto for typewriter which it is not, as other commenters mentioned.

        I was simply pointing out that there IS, however, a genuine “concerto” for un-tuned sounds and orchestra, with the sounds being that of tap dancing, and that in common with L.A.’s The Typewriter, Fiedler and the Pops programmed it. And I have verified that Morton Gould wrote it.

  • NYMike says:

    A Leroy Anderson classic first performed by the Boston Pops conducted by Arthur Fiedler.

  • Joel Kemelhor says:

    “The Typewriter” is one of the pieces Leroy Anderson wrote for the Boston Pops in the 1940’s and 50’s. In addition to catchy tunes, they offered a spotlight for musicians in the now-ignored genre of “light orchestral music.”

    My school Christmas programs always had “Sleigh Ride” (which concludes with a neighing horse). Other Anderson favorites were “Syncopated Clock” and “Bugler’s Holiday” (played from the balcony by three cool guys).

  • Luis says:

    From 2011, the typist is Alfredo Anaya, a percussionist in Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid. The orchestra is a mix of the three orchestras of Madrid and the conductor the unforgettable Miguel Roa.

    • Rodrigo says:

      Maestro Miguel Roa, may he rest in peace. A diminuitive man with a huge personality and a wicked sense of humor. He is missed!

      Notice in this video the excellent work of Enrique Perez Piquer, Principal Clarinet of Spain’s Orquesta Nacional. The camera features him often. Mr. Perez is one of Spain’s finest clarinet soloists and probably the kindest, most modest virtuoso you could ever hope to meet.

      Spain’s lockdown in the early pandemic was perhaps the most stringent in the world. Mr. Perez was locked down in Madrid and prepared this video for his orchestra. He is joined by his daughter, a cellist. Bravi! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wf8ddoSvbtg

  • I recall Bill (I Dream of Jeannie, The Bob Newhart Show) Daly doing that routine on the Merv Griffin Show years ago.

    Leroy Anderson has come to be regarded as a bit too kitschy for modern ears but all it will take for a revival is to be featured on some hit TV show. Are there still hit TV shows?

    Here’s another Leroy Anderson staple that still gets performed, although not in America much…

    “Fiddle Faddle”, performed by the Novosibirsk Philharmonic:


  • Thomas Müthing says:

    The first time I heard this diverting piece was in the Jerry Lewis comedy “Who’s Minding the Store”. For a while I thought it was composed by that film’s score composer, Walter Scharf. Only later I found out it’s by Leroy Anderson. The best version of this is probably Maurice Abravanel’s Utah Symphony recording on Vanguard.

  • Gary Freer says:

    Corona Virus?

  • ruben Greenberg says:

    Can you still get ribbons for this typewriter?

  • Peter S says:

    In UK this is pretty well known as the theme tune for BBC Radio 4’s comedy show The News Quiz.

  • zeno north says:

    Whether one likes “light music” or not (I do), its composers – both British and American were great tunesmiths who produced memorable melodies and they were BRILLIANT orchestrators.