The Typewriter

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"The Typewriter" is a short composition of light music by American composer Leroy Anderson, which features an actual typewriter as a percussion instrument.


Anderson completed "The Typewriter" on October 9, 1950 in Woodbury, Connecticut. The piece was published in 1953.[1] "The Typewriter" received its first performance on September 8, 1953 during a recording Anderson made in New York City for Decca Records[2]

Its name refers to the fact that its performance requires a typewriter, which is used on stage, a standard desk bell for the "ring" of the carriage return, and a musical gourd to make the sound of the typewriter carriage returning.[3]

The typewriter used in this composition is modified so that only two keys work to prevent the keys from jamming. Although initially stenographers were hired to "play" the typewriter for the Decca recording, Anderson reported that only professional drummers had the wrist flexibility necessary to perform the piece.[4]

It has been called one of "the wittiest and most clever pieces in the orchestral repertoire".[5] Author Steve Metcalf has written that "Despite the almost total disappearance of typewriters in everyday life, the statistics show that "The Typewriter" is still a favorite Anderson item."[6]

Cultural references[edit]

The piece was featured in the Jerry Lewis film Who's Minding the Store (1963). The Radio 4 satirical programme The News Quiz has adopted the tune as its theme song. The original MS-DOS version of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing! played a portion of the piece on startup. For several decades the tune was also the opening theme for Israel Radio's weekly news journal, which is broadcast on its "Network B" ("Reshet Bet") every Saturday morning. It was also featured as a title theme for the German comedy TV series Büro, Büro, and in Adam Elliot's 2009 Australian film Mary and Max. It was integrated into the Animaniacs cartoon segment "Temporary Insanity" (Season 1, episode 6, 1993), mimed by Yakko Warner as being typed on a nonexistent typewriter.


  • Leroy Anderson (conductor), "Leroy Anderson Conducts" (Decca Records, 195?), ED 2669, 1 disc: 45 rpm; 7 in. EP. Contents: Blue Tango; The Typewriter; Sleigh Ride; The Waltzing Cat.
  • Pinchas Steinberg (conductor), "Blue Tango: Symphonic Pops by Leroy Anderson" (Laserlight Digital 15 248, 1990). Contents: The Typewriter and 18 other compositions by Leroy Anderson.


  1. ^ "Leroy Anderson: A Bio-Bibliography", Praeger 2004, Chapter 2 – "Works", Pages 25–81.
  2. ^ "Leroy Anderson: A Bio-Bibliography", Praeger 2004, Appendix H – "Recording Sessions and Musicians", page 411
  3. ^ Evening at Pops with Leroy Anderson, transcript of episode of Evening at Pops broadcast in May 1972, at PBS, retrieved June 23 2012
  4. ^ Leroy Anderson: Master of the Miniature, at National Public Radio, by Pat Dowell, published June 29, 2008, retrieved June 23, 2012
  5. ^ "Compact Discoveries: #13, Leroy Anderson", by Fred Flaxman, broadcast 2005, transcript posted 2009, retrieved June 23 2012
  6. ^ "Leroy Anderson: A Bio-Bibliography", Praeger 2004, Chapter 1 – "Biography", Page 15

External links[edit]