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Famous Like Me > Composer > H > Skitch Henderson

Profile of Skitch Henderson on Famous Like Me

Name: Skitch Henderson  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 27th January 1918
Place of Birth: Halstad, Minnesota, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Skitch Henderson (born Lyle Russell Cedric Henderson, January 27, 1918, Birmingham, England) is a naturalized American pianist, conductor, and composer.

His mother, a Birmingham church and theatre organist, taught him piano and enrolled him in the London Conservatory at the age of seven. He emigrated to the U.S. to live with relatives in the 1920s.

He started his professional career in the 1930s playing piano in the roadhouses of the American Midwest, his major break being as an accompanist on a 1937 MGM promotional tour featuring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. Later, as a member of MGM’s music department, he played on Bob Hope’s Pepsodent Show.

He joined the Royal Air Force when World War Two began and served as a fighter pilot before becoming a US citizen and joining the U.S. Army Air Corps as a bomber pilot.

After the war, he worked for NBC Radio, where he was the musical director for Frank Sinatra's Lucky Strike Show and The Philco Hour with Bing Crosby (who gave him the name "Skitch", because he could quickly "re-sketch" a song in a different key). Skitch received classical training under Fritz Reiner, Albert Coates, Arnold Schoenberg, Ernest Toch, and Arturo Toscanini, who invited him to conduct the NBC Symphony Orchestra.

In a career at NBC spanning 1951 to 1966, he succeeded Toscanini as music director for NBC Television and was the original conductor of the orchestras for The Tonight Show and The Today Show. After leaving NBC, he forged a career as a conductor of numerous symphonic orchestras throughout the world. In 1983 he founded the New York Pops orchestra.

Among his hundreds of recordings spanning the era of 78s to DVDs are two recent releases as pianist for Arbors Records and as conductor of The New York Pops with Maureen McGovern on With a Song in My Heart: The Great Songs of Richard Rodgers for Reader’s Digest and Centaur Records. Skitch married Ruth Einsiedel in 1958 and raised two children Hans and Heidi. Since 1972, they have owned and operated The Silo, a renowned store, art gallery, and cooking school in New Milford, Connecticut. In 2003 Ruth and Skitch Henderson co-founded the Hunt Hill Farm Trust, an effort to preserve their farm’s land and buildings and to celebrate Americana in music, art and literature through the creation of a living museum. An affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution resulted in the Trust’s inaugural exhibit: Skitch Henderson: A Man and His Music. On January 29, 2005, the Smithsonian Institution awarded him the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal in recognition of his contributions to American culture. Skitch has been honored for the vital role he has played in the cultural life of New York, including receiving New York City’s prestigious Handel Medallion. He is also the recipient of three honorary degrees – from St. Thomas Aquinas College, the University of South Florida, and Western Connecticut State University.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Skitch Henderson