In the Footsteps of Alan Lomax: The Artists Behind the Music
If you know any of Aaron Copland's music, then you probably know "Hoedown," the finale of "Rodeo," the score that Mr. Copland wrote in 1942 for Agnes de Mille's ever-popular ballet about love among the cowpokes. "Hoedown" is a high-stepping orchestral fantasy based on "Bonaparte's Retreat," a 19th-century fiddle tune that Mr. Copland ran across in "Our Singing Country," a 1941 book co-edited by Alan Lomax, the celebrated folk-song collector. The version of "Bonaparte's Retreat" found in "Our Singing Country" was transcribed from a recording made by Mr. Lomax on a 1937 trip to Kentucky for the Library of Congress. It's a note-for-note rendering of the way the song was played by a fiddler named Bill Stepp. Every time you hear a symphony orchestra perform "Hoedown," you hear the ghost of Mr. Stepp's supremely virtuosic playing....
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