|Composition by Leroy Anderson and His "Pops" Concert Orchestra|
|Written||October 9, 1950|
|Recorded||September 8, 1953|
Anderson completed "The Typewriter" on October 9, 1950 in Woodbury, Connecticut. "The Typewriter" received its first performance on September 8, 1953 during a recording Anderson and the Boston Pops Orchestra made in New York City for Decca Records. Anderson composed the melody for symphony and pops orchestras; William Zinn and Floyd Werle arranged it for string orchestras and wind bands respectively.
Its name refers to the fact that its performance requires a typewriter, while using three basic typewriter sounds: the sound of typing, the "ring" of the carriage return indicating an approaching end-of-line (a standard desk bell is used for it), and the sound of the typewriter's carriage returning. In some cases the sound of the typewriter's carriage returning is made by a musical gourd, flute, string or other instrument.
The typewriter was modified so that only two keys work to prevent the keys from jamming. According to the composer himself, as well as other musicians, the typewriter part is difficult because of how fast the typing speed is: even professional stenographers cannot do it, and only professional drummers have the necessary wrist flexibility.
It has been called one of "the wittiest and most clever pieces in the orchestral repertoire". 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."
The piece was featured in the Jerry Lewis film Who's Minding the Store (1963), although his first recorded performance was on a January 1954 episode of The Colgate Comedy Hour. 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 has been 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. The piece also appears in the Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (season 1, episode 4) and FX series Better Things (season 4, episode 9).
The Russian name of the piece, "? ? ?" (Solo na pishushchey mashinke, Solo on typewriter) was used as the title of a touch typing self-teaching manual by Vladimir Shakhidzhanyan (1991) who later adapted the title for his touch keyboarding computer primer "? ?" (Solo na klaviature, Solo on keyboard) and for the notebooks "? " (Solo na undervude, Solo on underwood, 1980) and "? IBM" (Solo na IBM, Solo on IBM, 1990) by Sergei Dovlatov.
Used in Warehouse 13 Season 2 Episode 10 "Where and When".