Title
Old American Songs, Set I
For
voice and piano
Year Composed
1950
ARCO Number(s)
65
Category
Vocal
Duration
13'
Songs
Premiere
  • World: Aldeburgh, June 17th, 1950 (Peter Pears, Benjamin Britten)
Commission Info
Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, for the Aldeburgh Festival
Publisher
Boosey & Hawkes
Publishing Status
Published: See collections

Program Note

Baritone William Warfield sang the [U.S.] premiere performance of Copland's folk song arrangements at Town Hall in 1951. He said, "The songs were a tremendous success. Aaron was an excellent pianist and, of course, knowing the flavor of them so well, it was a tremendous experience working with him."

The Boatmen's Dance, a minstrel show tune by Daniel Decatur Emmett, composer of "Dixie," is a lively tune with imitation banjo playing in the accompaniment. The Dodger is a satirical political song found by Copland in a collection by John and Alan Lomax. It dates from the political campaign of 1884 when Grover Cleveland defeated James G. Blaine. Long Time Ago is a setting of a lyrical nostalgic ballad discovered by the composer in the Harris Collection at Brown University. Simple Gifts is the Shaker song used in Appalachian Spring arranged in a straightforward style closer to the original folk version. I Bought Me a Cat, a children's nonsense song, repeats a refrain adding a farm animal as it proceeds. The harmony and accompaniment simulate barnyard sounds.

Author
Vivian Perlis
Year
1998