Aaron Copland: Hoe-Down


Composed as part of the 1942 ballet Rodeo, this vivacious hoe-down is full of American spirit. Based on the theme from the first bar of William H. Stepp’s interpretation of the folk tune Bonaparte’s Retreat, the famous melody that Copland put together has remained one his most beloved works. The music transports you to the world of cowboys and the American West, with the main melody being based on the hoe-down dance. 


The Music

The bombastic hoe-down introduction sets the scene and offers us the first main theme of the piece. Copland plays with counterpoint between different sections of the orchestra before the strings take the melody. The piercing tuned percussion adds to to the joyfulness of the music, with the brass adding volume to both the dynamic and texture. The second square dance that is heard is based on Miss McLeod’s Reel. Copland uses various soloists to play this melody.

The clarinet and oboe then briefly introduce an Irish theme, before the music begins reprising the opening theme. Now in the form of a canon, the main melody is slowly built up. Hoe-Down concludes with a bold fanfare led by the brass, before the final few tutti notes are powerfully hit. 


Final Thoughts

Aaron Copland’s Hoe-Down is full of recognisable melodies that all make you want to get up and dance along. This instantly-recognisable melodies has kept this particular work an audience favourite.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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