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American arranger, clarinettist, composer and conductor Norman Leyden was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on 17 October 1917 and studied at Yale (where his career began playing bass clarinet in the New Haven Symphony Orchestra) and at Columbia University.
During World War II, Leyden served in the Army Air Force. Whist rehearsing music as a master sergeant in Atlantic City, he came to the attention of Glenn Miller, who later asked Leyden to conduct an Army Air Force 'Winged Victory' spectacular. Leyden became one of the arrrangers for Miller's Air Force Band, and also composed, with Miller and others, the theme for the wartime radio show I Sustain the Wings.
Moving to Portland, Oregon, he took over the Portland Junior Symphony whilst its conductor Jacob Avshalovov was away, joined the Portland State University music department and began a long relationship with the Oregon Symphony as the orchestra's associate conductor, leading also to conducting the Oregon Symphony Pops for many years. He also worked with various other groups.
Leyden died on 23 July 2014, aged ninety-six.