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Leo Arnaud or Léo Arnaud (/ˈl. ɑːrˈn/; July 24, 1904 – April 26, 1991) was a French-American composer of film scores, best known for "Bugler's Dream", which is used as the theme by television networks presenting the Olympic Games in the United States.

Leo Arnaud
Leo Arnaud.jpg
Background information
Birth nameNoël Leon Marius Arnaud [1]
Also known asLeo Vauchant
Born(1904-07-24)July 24, 1904
Lyon, France
DiedApril 26, 1991(1991-04-26) (aged 86)
Hamptonville, North Carolina, United States
GenresFilm scores
Occupation(s)Arranger, composer, and orchestrator
InstrumentsCello and trombone
Years active1930s–1960s

The composer studied composition at conservatories in Lyon and Paris with Maurice Ravel and Vincent d'Indy.[2] After playing as a jazz trombonist in France using the name Leo Vauchant and arranging for the Jack Hylton band in England from 1928 to 1930, he immigrated to the United States in 1931. He worked in Hollywood as an arranger for Fred Waring before joining Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as an arranger, composer, and orchestrator from 1936 to 1966.

In 1980, Arnaud left Hollywood and retired to Yadkin County, North Carolina. His wife, Faye Brooks Arnaud, was a native of the area. He is buried at Asbury United Methodist Church in Hamptonville, North Carolina.[3]

Bugler's DreamEdit

"Bugler's Dream" is very well known, especially by Americans, as theme music for the Olympic Games from its use in ABC's and NBC's television coverage of the games beginning with the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. It is considered to be a symbol of the Olympics. Arnaud's piece is very stately, beginning with a timpani cadence that is soon joined by a distinctive theme in brass.

The musical theme of "Bugler's Dream" is based on Joseph-David Buhl's "Salut aux étendards", a typical cavalry trumpet's call, composed during Napoleon's Consulate.[4]

Arnaud was commissioned by conductor Felix Slatkin to create a piece for his album Charge! in 1958. For this, he wrote "The Charge Suite", published by Shawnee Press, which included "Bugler's Dream". ABC began using the composition as the theme to its coverage of the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, and in future Olympics.[5] It was also used as the title piece for the series ABC's Wide World of Sports. NBC went with an alternate theme in 1988 when it obtained the rights to the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, but brought "Bugler's Dream" back for its coverage of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

For the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California, composer John Williams wrote "Olympic Fanfare and Theme", which is played in a medley with "Bugler's Dream." It consists of Williams's arrangement of "Bugler's Dream" which is similar to Arnaud's original but with a repeat of the theme with a full orchestra, followed by Williams's composition.[6] Williams's arrangement of Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream" as well as "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" are both commonly used in recent Olympic coverage by NBC. It is also commonly played during graduation ceremonies in the United States.



Arnaud was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adaptation or Treatment Score for The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) at the 37th Academy Awards, presented in 1965. It was a co-nomination with six other men who also wrote the film's music, with Arnaud doing orchestration.[7]


  1. ^ De Jong, Diederik C.D. (January–February 1996). "Arnaud: Symphonie Francaise, Latin American Scenario, Midinette, In Memoriam, Well Tempered Oboist, Bugler's Dream". American Record Guide: 71. Retrieved November 14, 2007.
  2. ^ Leo Arnaud at Archived July 30, 2007, at WebCite
  3. ^ Hall, Frieda (August 24, 2004). "Hamptonville News". The Tribune.
  4. ^ Greenberg, Robert. "Viva la Fanfare!". Robert Greenberg Music. Archived from the original on September 14, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  5. ^ Burlingame, Jon (February 21, 2014). "Film Composers Achieve Olympic Victory". The Film Music Society. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Harrell, Jeff (August 18, 2004). "The Shape of Days – The Olympic Theme". Retrieved August 18, 2008.
  7. ^ Stepanich, Greg (August 16, 2008). "Leo Arnaud's Olympics Brand". Retrieved August 18, 2008.

8. ^ Guegold, William K. (Golden Clef Publishing, 1996.) "100 Years of Olympic Music: Music and Musicians of the Modern Olympic Games, 1896-1996."

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