Title
Billy The Kid
Subtitle
Ballet in One Act
For
orchestra
Year Composed
1938
Scoring
2(II=picc).2.2.2-4.3.3.1-timp.perc(5):glsp/xyl/cyms/sleigh bells/tgl/guiro/wdbl/whip/BD/SD/tin whistle-harp-pft-strings
ARCO Number(s)
33
Category
Ballet
Duration
35'
Sections
Premieres
  • 1. World: Chicago, Civic Opera House, October 16th, 1938 (with two pianos)
  • 2. New York: New York, May 24th, 1939 (cond. Fritz Kitzinger)
Commission Info
Lincoln Kirstein and Ballet Caravan
Related Persons
Publisher
Boosey & Hawkes
Publishing Status
Published
Arrangements
Billy the Kid (for solo piano) (arr. Lukas Foss)

Program Note

Lincoln Kirstein and Eugene Loring of Ballet Caravan asked Copland to compose music for a cowboy ballet."Lincoln tempted me with several books of western tunes, and Loring wrote a scenario about the notorious bandit of the Southwest, Billy the Kid. I became intrigued with using tunes such as Git Along Little Dogies, The Old Chisholm Trail, and Goodbye Old Paint." The ballet is still performed regularly, and the orchestral suite of six connecting movements is one of Copland's most popular works.

Prairie Night and Celebration Dance: Two movements from Billy the Kid were reduced for small orchestra by the composer.

Waltz: The dance of the outlaw and his sweetheart is often performed as a single movement in the version Copland arranged for small orchestra.

Author
Vivian Perlis
Year
1998