Hoe Down from Rodeo (1942)
AARON COPLAND (trans. Mark Rogers)
The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo commissioned choreographer Agnes de Mille and composer Aaron Copland to collaborate on the creation of a Western ballet for its 1942-43 season. Rodeo was first produced at the Metropolitan Opera House in October 1942.
The idea for the ballet was devised by Miss de Mille, who described it as follows: “Throughout the American Southwest, the Saturday afternoon Rodeo is a tradition. On the remote ranches, as well as in the trading centers and the towns, the Ôhands’ get together to show off their skills in roping, riding, branding, and throwing. The afternoon’s exhibition is usually followed by a Saturday night dance at the Ranch House.”
Copland wrote the music in June and orchestrated it in September of 1942. He subsequently extracted an orchestral suite from the ballet score for concert performance titled Four Dance Episodes from “Rodeo,” into which are woven a number of American folk songs. Hoe Down is the fourth and final movement of the suite, the principal theme for which is provided by a square dance tune called “Bonyparte.”
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