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Fall 2009 Table of Contents

Growing Up at Symphony Hall

Peter Fiedler recalls a musical childhood, with a magical father

| From Gallery | By Caleb Daniloff, Video by Robin Berghaus

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Peter Fiedler leads a behind-the-scenes tour of Symphony Hall.

Peter Fiedler doesn’t have any daddy issues. In fact, BU’s vice president for administrative services proudly embraces his blood tie to inimitable conductor Arthur Fiedler (Hon.’51), who presided over the Boston Pops Orchestra at Symphony Hall for almost fifty years.

“I always have a certain emotional welling up when I walk through the door of that building,” says Fiedler, whose thick silver hair and moustache call to mind his famous father’s mane. “I spent many hours, days, weeks, months collectively through my childhood and teenage years in Symphony Hall, either attending concerts or joining my father there when he was in his office.”

Arthur Fiedler brought orchestral music to the general public through the Pops’s long spring seasons at Symphony Hall and his immensely popular Fourth of July concerts on the Esplanade. He applied a light touch to his perfor­mances, including orchestral treatments of popular music, and a brand of showmanship that sometimes veered toward self-mockery. “He was a ham,” Peter Fiedler says.

Arthur Fiedler died in 1979, at age eighty-four, after suffering a heart attack the day after a performance at his beloved Symphony Hall. BU’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center holds Fiedler’s archive of papers and memorabilia. This fall, many items — including hand-annotated scores, batons, and photos — will be on loan to the venerable hall for a yearlong display celebrating the orchestra’s 125th anniversary. They’re sure to be seen by Peter Fiedler, who attends performances several times a year, remembering his father’s impact on music, and on his son.

“He wasn’t a baseball-throwing kind of dad,” Fiedler says. “He was a guy who tried to give you his knowledge and wisdom through being around you. He was always ‘what you see is what you get.’ There was never an agenda, and I really miss him.”

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On 1 June 2011 at 11:42 PM, coale johnson ('72) wrote:

Peter was a good practitioner of the Hammond organ back in the day. I hope he kept it up.... also when I visited the family home in '72 it was clear that he was a pretty good urban gardener!

On 18 October 2009 at 2:05 PM, Michael Gadziala wrote:

Arthur Fielder was my neighbor back in the early 1970's when I was attending school. I rented a room from a home two doors away from his Hyslop Road mansion. I had the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions and truly enjoyed seeing him in performance. I also got to know Ellen Fiedler after Mr. Fiedler's death. She too, was a wonderful woman. I even visited her when she sold the mansion and moved to Cambridge. Like his son, Peter, I too, get emotional when I walk into Symphony Hall for a POPS concert . I still feel the Fielder spirit and have shared it with my 12 year old daughter, explaining the legacy he left. I miss Harry Dickson, Charlie Smith, and John Barwicki as well. Fine musician who I had the pleasure of knowing. Those were some great times ! There will never be another Arthur Fielder. Shakespeare said it best, "All in all, I shall never look upon the likes of him , again" Peter thank you for sharing this moment !

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