Tag Archives: Rodeo

Americana: Cheyenne Frontier Days

 

Frontier Days has been a part of Cheyenne since the end of the 19th century. It's not just rodeo, but a full range of activities and performances for the whole family. Uploaded by museevirtuel.ca.

You don’t have to love the sport of rodeo in order to enjoy Cheyenne Frontier Days. But it helps. Billing itself as “The Daddy of ’em All,” Frontier Days has been an annual mainstay of Cheyenne since its founding in 1897. Its rodeo competition is probably the largest of its kind in the country, and draws some 200,000 people during its run.

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But there’s plenty to do even if you don’t know a dogie from a doggie. There’s a large carnival midway with games and rides. There’s an Old West museum, a chuckwagon cookoff, a grand parade, an Indian village, free pancake breakfasts (yes, free), a Western art show, and a performance by Air Force Thunderbirds. And almost every night, a major musical act. The 2011 acts include Darius Rucker, Jason Aldean, Kid Rock, Mötley Crüe, The Charley Daniels Band, and Toby Keith.

The event is usually held over the last full week of July, so if you’d like to attend in 2011, that’s July 22-31. The capital of Wyoming has never become too “citified,” and it revels in everything Western during Frontier Days. So put on your cowboy boots and your Stetson, and enjoy a part of the country that most of us don’t know enough about. Cheyenne. Wyoming. The West.

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Music: Aaron Copland

Copland used American musical idioms in such popular works as Rodeo, Fanfare for the Common Man, and Appalachian Spring.

Though certainly not the first American composer whose music captured the national mood, Aaron Copland created ballets, popular works, and film scores that earned him the unofficial title as “The Dean of American composers.”

Copland weaved such true American musical idioms as jazz and folk into his compositions, and audiences loved him for it. He looked to these forms to liberate our classical music from the influence of Europe. He loved the European masters, of course – he spent a great deal of time in Europe and Asia, immersing himself in the music of the world. But he felt it was time for America to establish its own musical identity.

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His first composition to achieve iconic status was the ballet Billy the Kid (1935). It incorporated cowboy tunes and folk songs, and is still one of his most popular and widely performed pieces. Similarly, another ballet with a western theme, Rodeo (1942), also blended recognizable folk tunes with a Copland flair. Especially notable was the “Hoedown” section near the end. (Beef – it’s what’s for dinner.)

That same year, Copland composed one of the most instantly recognizable and loved pieces of American music, Fanfare for the Common Man. Written as America was gearing up for World War II, it accomplished Copland’s goal to create a national morale booster.

Copland later arranged his most famous ballet into an orchestral arrangement – Appalachian Spring. Originally written for 13 instruments, it incorporated the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” in a beautiful and inspiring American classic. It earned him the Pulitzer Prize (Great American Things, February 19, 2010).

Copland also wrote film scores, most notably Of Mice and Men (1939) for which he received an Academy Award nomination, and The Heiress (1949) for which he won the award.