Print Shortlink

Sleigh Ride

(Leroy Anderson)(Lyrics by Mitchell Parish)

This popular Christmas song, and possibly Leroy Anderson’s best known composition, was actually written in the middle of a heat wave in July 1948 in Woodbury, Connecticut, after the composer had just left military service.  Although now one of the most performed orchestral Christmas songs, it had not been planned with that in mind, as it was more an image of sleighing that was the subject matter.

It was premiered by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra as an “extra” in May 1948 and recorded in April 1949 by Arthur Fiedler and then re-recorded by Leroy Anderson in September 1950.  In 1950 there were words added to it by Mitchell Parish.

It has been sung by numerous artists, with the first thought to be Johnny Mathis followed by singers such as Air Supply, The Spice Girls, The Ronettes, The Carpenters, Neil Diamond and Ella Fitzgerald, and performed as an instrumental led by conductors such as Percy Faith and Andre Kostelanetz.  Often having the lyrics altered there are slightly changed versions by The Ronettes and Harry Connick Jr, and also occasions where the word “Christmas” is swapped for “Happy Birthday”.

Appearing in countless movies, it has been featured in Girl, Interrupted, The Family Man, Elf, Cast Away, Sleepless in Seattle, Jingle All the Way, Home Alone 2 and Falling In Love.

The Abbey Road Ensemble recordings
EMI 56176 (CD: Our Christmas Songs For You)
Conductor – Jonathan Tunick
London Voices
Soprano – Kiri Te Kanawa
Tenor – Roberto Alagna
Baritone – Thomas Hampson

Leroy Anderson and his Orchestra recordings
MCA MCAD-9815-B (CD: The Leroy Anderson Collection)

Boston Pops Orchestra recordings
Sony Classical SK 48232 (CD – Joy to the World)
Conductor – John Williams

Deutsche Grammophon DG 419 414 (CD: White Christmas)
Conductor – Arthur Fiedler

RCA 6428 (CD: A Christmas Festival with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops)
Conductor – Arthur Fiedler

RCA 61685 (CD: Pops Christmas Party)
Conductor – Arthur Fiedler

Cincinnati Sinfonietta recordings
Telarc 83315 (CD: Christmas Songs)
Conductor Keith Lockhart
Vocals – Mel Torme

Detroit Symphony Orchestra recordings
BGD 0117 (CD: Joy!)
Conductor – Neeme Jarvi

Eakin Piano Trio recordings
Naxos 554099 (CD: Home for the Holidays)

Eastman-Rochester Pops Orchestra recordings
Mercury Living Presence 432 013-2 (CD: Frederick Fennell Conducts the Music of Leroy Anderson)
Conductor – Frederick Fennell

Richard Hayman and His Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra & Choir recordings
Naxos 8.990006 (CD: Silent Night)

Glenn Miller Orchestra recordings
Laser Light 15 418 (CD: In the Christmas Mood)

Philadelphia Orchestra & Chorus recordings
RCA 6430 (CD: Joy to the World)
Conductor – Eugene Ormandy

Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and Chorus recordings
Naxos 8.990013 (CD: Joy to the World)
Conductor – Richard Hayman

Rochester Pops Orchestra recordings
Pro Arte 220 (CD: Christmas at the Pops)
Conductor – Erich Kunzel

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra recordings
RCA 68048 (CD: The Typwriter)
Conductor – Leonard Slatkin

Saint Louis Wind Symphony recordings
EndEnsCmasCD06 (CD: In the Christmas Mood)
Conductor – Dan Presgrave

Sonos Handbell Ensemble recordings
WTP 5176 (CD: Christmas With Sonos Handbell Ensemble)
Conductor – James Meredith