🎻♫♪ – Rodeo by Aaron Copland

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
 35/501Title: Rodeo
Composer: Aaron Copland
Nationality: American

I blink and it’s been a month where I have not touched any of the entries on the classical list. Considering that so many pieces come in at under half an hour (although many also take more than two hours) I have to chalk a lot of this up to just forgetting to put the time in for this.

So for today I thought I would go for one of the later entries on the list… and one that just sounded interesting. As the title suggests, Rodeo is a classical piece set in the old west that takes the form of a cowboy ballet. The piece itself is a fusion of where classical meets Broadway and was one of the first truly American ballets with folk style music being melded into a more formal orchestrated setting.

I can only imagine the first time critics saw Rodeo being performed. I mean you go in with an idea of what a ballet is and then, in the first movement, you have professional ballet dancers miming horse-riding. As the piece goes on there is a woodwind section playing with a honky-tonk piano and it all culminates in a hoe-down.

Credit where credit is due to Aaron Copland, this really is an idea that should not have worked or, at least, had a more humours bent in the music. But no, Rodeo is a solid piece that (much like the sampling in trains?) shows just how versatile the classical genre can be when it comes to moving with the times. After all, this is an area of music that has survived for nearly 1000 years thanks to its ability to adapt – so why should that stop now?


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