One of the very first blog entries I wrote here was one about the film composer Leo Arnaud, who is best-known for the music we know as the Olympics theme, which originally was written as a brass piece called Bugler’s Dream.
I’ve received several excellent comments from readers about Arnaud, in particular from people who knew him and had many nice things to say about him. To save everyone the trouble of going back to that post to read those comments again, here are three of them:
Just yesterday, August 16, 2008, I visited the final resting place of Sir Leo Arnaud in Yadkin Co., N.C. His wife (now deceased) was a friend of my mother’s and I had been a guest in their home. He was a brilliant man even into his late 80’s. I had always loved Olympic Fanfare even before meeting him and find it very exciting to have this personal connection to the Olympics. I was delighted to find your blog and know that Sir Leo would be humbly proud. His wife was a dear, precious lady. He told me that the first time he saw her, he thought, “She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.” Thank you for acknowledging his genius and keeping his memory alive…
– Patricia Spencer
I often think of Leo, especially every four years during the Olympics. During the late 70’s some friends and I had the pleasure of meeting Leo when he still lived in Beverly Hills. He told us many stories – how as a child he would watch Debussy go into a music store; his stories of Ravel and the early Jazz era in France; how as a young man he was was to play a cello solo and he looked up and Saint Saens was playing the organ. I wish I could remember all the stories. He was brilliant.
– Tim Judy
I am originally from Hamptonville and had the pleasure of meeting Sir Leo at my father’s lumber company there in 1982. We became good friends, and I visited his home many times. We had wonderful discussions about music. He was such a character and told great stories. I had just graduated from college with a degree in piano. He was happy for me to play his piano, and many times he would play along on his cello. He even played his cello at my wedding in 1985. I feel so lucky that our lives crossed paths.
– Gail Casstevens-Dunn
The other day I heard from Regina DeDominicis, a mom, graphic designer and student at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill., which is not far from where I grew up. I took courses there during high school for extra credit many years ago, so it was most interesting to hear from someone who lives in the part of the country where I grew up.
Regina has done a Flash animation presentation about Arnaud featuring some good pictures of the composer and a narration of the facts of his life by a voice actor telling his story. It’s interesting, and adds some good detail to his story that I was unaware of.
I’ll try to download the swif and post it, but I don’t think WordPress will let me do that (and indeed, it won’t). Perhaps Regina will post it somewhere we can all see it. In any case, she’s provided the picture of Mr. Arnaud for the top of this post, and I very much appreciate it; I’d been unable to find any photo of him anywhere before Regina’s note.
The thing I take away from all this is that there are any number of musicians in society at any one time who add to the richness of our civilization even when we don’t know their names.
It feels good to shed a little more light, thanks to all of you, on the work of someone who wrote a short piece that must be one of the most familiar in the world, and to reunite that music with its creator.