Richard Hayman

1920 2014

Richard Hayman

Harmonica • Conductor


Richard Hayman was best known both for the arrangements he made for the Boston Pops Orchestra and for serving as music director for a spate of famous entertainers, including Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Red Skelton, the Osmonds, Pat Boone, Andy Williams, Olivia Newton-John, Kenny Rogers, and many more. Hayman also served as orchestrator/arranger on a number of film projects, including classics like Meet Me in St. Louis and Girl Crazy. He was a popular conductor of pops orchestras as well, not least because of his flamboyant dress and willingness to play the harmonica in one or two numbers. Hayman made numerous best-selling recordings for a variety of labels, and his arrangements appeared on countless well-known artists' recordings.

Hayman was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on March 27, 1920. At age 18 he began playing harmonica with the Borrah Minevitch Harmonica Rascals, who soon began using his arrangements. Following this phase, he briefly worked with Leo Diamond & the Solidaires. Hayman next began making arrangements for film studios and eventually was signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Hayman soon began appearing in films himself, among them Sweet Rosie O'Grady, Coney Island, and Always in My Heart. It was during his Hollywood years that Hayman deepened his compositional and arranging skills, studying with Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. He also studied conducting with Arthur Fiedler.

From 1945-1950 Hayman worked as music director on radio broadcasts and recordings for Vaughn Monroe and his orchestra. He next was contracted by Mercury Records (1950-1965), acting as director of artists and repertory, and thus worked with such performers as Patti Page and Vic Damone. In 1960 Hayman was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. At around this point and for the decades that ensued, Hayman occasionally began appearing as conductor of the Boston Pops, who also used and popularized many of his arrangements. Hayman also frequently led other pops orchestras in the United States, including in Detroit, St. Louis, Hartford, and various major cities. He continued to turn out many popular recordings as well, like the late-'70s album A Fifth of Beethoven, a disco take on the classic Beethoven symphony. In the first decade of the new century Hayman remained active, both on the concert and recording scenes. In 2006 he was conductor of Florida's Sunshine Pops and the principal pops conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony. In 2010, he made a final appearance with the St. Louis Symphony, at a celebration of his 90th birthday. Hayman died at a Manhattan nursing home in February 2014 at the age of 93.