When Aaron Copland thought of the Far West, he probably didn’t have Wisconsin in mind, but Milwaukee was the perfect location to “road test” the new edition of Rodeo.
That’s where Philip Rothman went for the first rehearsals of a new edition of Copland’s masterpiece that I prepared. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of music director Ken-David Masur, agreed to play from a brand new set of score and parts to Rodeo.
You might wonder, what was wrong with the old edition? Certainly, it’s been played from thousands and thousands of times. When the piece was first published in the 1940s, a number of errors and inconsistencies crept into the parts. Although they’ve been corrected by intrepid orchestra librarians, it was time to get them straightened out once and for all.
One reason for the inconsistencies was that the “Four Dance Episodes” from Rodeo, which is the version that most everyone is familiar with, is extracted from the full ballet. That version left a lot to be desired in the engraving department, so, with the support of The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and in coordination with Boosey & Hawkes, the team at NYC Music Services put it all into modern software and made brand new materials for both the ballet and the Four Dance Episodes, with the goal of clarifying any discrepancies and making everything nice and easy to read.
The Milwaukee players were great, and you can read more about it on the Scoring Notes web site. It must have been fate to go there, because in researching this piece, we stumbled across a fascinating interview that Copland gave in 1970 while visiting the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It’s thanks to the library archives of that university that we’re pleased to bring you that interview here as a Scoring Notes extra.
Copland talks with professor John Downey about the iconic ballets like Rodeo, the various people and musical trends which influenced him, and the divergent aspects of his own work throughout his career. You’ll also hear him talk about what was current at the time and discuss the future of music.
This episode is co-produced with The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, with material kindly provided from the Archives Department, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries.
More from Scoring Notes: Road report: Copland’s Rodeo in Milwaukee