Piano Street Magazine

Sleigh Ride – A Holiday Greeting on 440 Keys

December 23rd, 2019 in Top Video Picks by | 3 comments

Enjoy The Five Brown’s new rendition of Leroy Anderson’s joyful season’s celebration wondrously arranged for five pianos!

This eternal holiday favorite was composed during a severe heat wave in the summer of 1950 and has been a fixture with holiday concerts for more than half a century. It’s said that the main melody of “Sleigh Ride” was used as the main theme of Victor Young’s score for the 1949 western Streets of Laredo, with no credits to Anderson. The original orchestral version included humorous sound applications such as horse clip-clopping, and a whip used to get the horse moving. A percussionist provides these sounds on temple blocks and a slapstick. Toward the ending of the piece, a trumpet imitates the sound of a whinnying horse.

Leroy Anderson was an American composer of short, light concert music, of which many were introduced by the Boston Pops Orchestra and conductor Arthur Fiedler. Composer John Williams described him as “one of the great American masters of light orchestral music.” Anderson was born to first-generation Swedish parents in Cambridge, Massachusetts and played trombone in the Harvard University Band in the late 1920s. In graduate school he studied composition, organ and double bass as well as Scandinavian languages, which he used during Second Word War as head of the Scandinavian desk in U.S. military intelligence. His composition teachers at Harvard University included Walter Piston and George Enescu.


  • lhevinne says:

    amazing arrangement and playing! but i wonder what the utility is of writing something for five pianos? how many times is actually five people gonna have five pianos available to perform this?

  • M K Stahl says:

    Very inspiring and upbeat. The coordination was perfect and I enjoyed the audio effects as well as knowing that the 5 Browns were enjoying themselves also.

  • Excellent arrangement and performance.

    The biographical information about Leroy Anderson is accurate. Greater detail can be found at http://www.leroyanderson.com.

    The information about Sleigh Ride was copied from Wikipedia and is not accurate. For example Sleigh Ride was begun in1946, not 1950; It was completed in 1948; lyrics were added in 1950.

    For accurate information, see http://www.leroyanderson.com/sleigh-ride.php and http://www.leroyandersonfoundation.org/sleigh_ride.php.

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