The Boston Pops Orchestra – affectionately known as “America’s Orchestra” – is the most recorded and arguably the most beloved orchestra in the country. In 2010, with the 125th anniversary season, the Boston Pops reached a landmark moment in a remarkable history that began with its founding in 1885. From the start, founder Henry Lee Higginson intended to present, in the warmer months, concerts of light classics and the popular music of the day. The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra – which consists of freelance musicians from Boston, organized by the management of the Boston Symphony Orchestra – performs in Boston’s Symphony Hall from mid-June through early-July, plays free outdoor concerts at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade during July (including the annual Fourth of July celebration), tours regularly throughout the United States and performs Holiday Pops concerts and a New Year's Eve
The Esplanade concerts were inaugurated in 1929 by Arthur Fiedler, one year before he became Conductor of the Boston Pops. The annual Fourth of July concert was inaugurated in 1976, when 400,000 people attended as part of the Bicentennial celebration – according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest audience in history for an orchestra concert. That record has since been broken twice, first in 1998 and again in 2003, when more than a half-million people attended that year’s concert.