Leroy Anderson Foundation, Sleigh Ride

Painter Hill House Sleigh Ride/Sledaferdin/Rekiretki

Leroy Anderson's Home
132 Painter Hill Road
Woodbury, Connecticut


The story of howSleigh Ride was written

Leroy Anderson and his wife Eleanor first came to Woodbury, Connecticut in 1946 to spend the summer in a cottage on Painter Hill Road. The cottage was on land owned by Eleanor’s mother and her two sisters who planned to retire there. During a July heat wave and drought, Leroy was digging trenches to try to find some old pipes coming from a spring. He began composing several tunes, including Sleigh Ride (Sleðaferð), in which he envisioned as a musical depiction of the winter season long ago.

After the summer of 1946 was over, Leroy and Eleanor moved to New York City where they lived at 19 Parade Place in Brooklyn in an apartment that had been rented by Eleanor’s uncle who recently died. Leroy Anderson completed Sleigh Ride in Brooklyn on February 10, 1948. Sleigh Ride received its premiere on May 4,1948 with Arthur Fiedler conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston. According to BPO Conductor Keith Lockhart, Sleigh Ride is the Pops’ signature work.

Meanwhile, Eleanor’s mother and aunts decided to have an old barn on their Painter Hill Road property converted into a house. When the house was completed, Leroy and Eleanor moved to Painter Hill Road in 1949, making Woodbury their permanent home.

According to the composer’s widow Eleanor Anderson, "Leroy didn’t set out to write a Christmas piece when he wrote 'Sleigh Ride.' His intentions were to convey the entire winter season through the imagery of a sleigh ride, much in the way that Mozart did with his piece of the same name."

Composer’s intentions aside, this winter composition quickly became associated with the holiday. Eleanor Anderson remembers hearing Sleigh Ride in New York City department stores right after the first recording was released in 1949.

Sleigh Ride is most popular Christmas holiday song in USA

Some 60 years after Leroy Anderson created Sleigh Ride, the composition is still ranked as one of the 10 most popular pieces of Christmas music worldwide. This is in spite of the fact that the word "Christmas" is never mentioned in the lyrics which Mitchell Parish wrote several years after Anderson finished the composition.

ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, named Sleigh Ride the most popular piece of Christmas music in the USA in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and again in 2015. Leroy Anderson's original recording of Sleigh Ride was the version most often played in 2010 based on performance data tracked by airplay monitoring service, Mediaguide, from over 2,500 radio stations nationwide. Sleigh Ride was aired 174,758 times in 2010, making it the most-played holiday song on radio for the second year in a row. Sleigh Ride was played 118,918 times during the same time period in 2009.

According to Steve Metcalf of Connecticut's newspaper, The Hartford Courant, "Sleigh Ride has been recorded by a broader aesthetic range of performers than any other piece in the history of Western music." Sleigh Ride has become one of the most popular musical compositions of the winter holidays throughout the world.

Also visit the official website for Leroy Anderson maintained by his family.

Read about Leroy Anderson in Finnish and see the Finnish lyrics for "Sleigh Ride". Leroy Anderson ja Rekiretki (Finnish)