program notes by composition > S > Sleigh Ride

Sleigh Ride

Leroy Anderson

Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride" is a delightful and enduring holiday classic that has become synonymous with the holiday season.  Composed in 1948, this cheerful piece captures the spirit of winter and the joyous anticipation of a sleigh ride through the snow-covered countryside. Leroy Anderson, an American composer and conductor, was known for his ability to create music that was both technically brilliant and immensely enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

"Sleigh Ride" opens with the unmistakable sound of a whip crack, setting the stage for a musical journey full of winter magic. The lively and syncopated melodies evoke images of a horse-drawn sleigh gliding through freshly fallen snow.  The use of playful percussion, including the distinctive clip-clop of horse hooves created by the temple blocks, adds to the vivid imagery of the winter scene.  The whipcrack and the iconic horse whinny bring the piece to an end.  The horse whinny has become a technique that every student of the trumpet must learn. There is much more to Sleigh Ride than a strong melody, sleigh bells, whip cracks and a horse whinny.  It is a sophisticated composition which is based on classical musical forms.

"Sleigh Ride" has become a staple of holiday concerts and festivities around the world.  Its lighthearted and accessible nature continues to enchant audiences with its timeless charm and festive energy.  The piece allows for creative interpretations, encouraging conductors to infuse their performances with a sense of fun and holiday spirit.

Last updated on December 3, 2023 by Palatine Concert Band