‘The Phantom Regiment’

This piece of music by Leroy Anderson (Sleighride, The Syncopated Clock, and so many others) has always excited my imagination. Who were The Phantom Regiment? When did they live? But of course Mr. Anderson never answered any of those questions. I think he wanted it to haunt you. “A shadow portrait of valor, echoing down through eternity,” one critic said of it. Yeah: we can’t identify it because it’s timeless.

Written in 1951, The Phantom Regiment kept cropping up on radio programs in my childhood. In a high school assembly, a jazz combo performed it for us–that’s how I finally learned its name. But the music itself was always there.

Close your eyes and listen. What do you see?

4 comments on “‘The Phantom Regiment’

  1. More Leroy Anderson brilliance. I remember hearing this as well. Anderson had a way of making something sound majestic without making it inaccessible. Around 1:40 he manages to add a much jazzier feel than you would ever expect in a song of this nature.

    Anderson always seemed to have some surprises up his sleeve. He could make music both meaning and light-hearted, simultaneously. I’ve always thought that Serenata was one of the best songs I’ve ever heard.

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