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The Beautiful Music All Around UsField Recordings and the American Experience$
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Stephen Wade

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036880

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036880.001.0001

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Bill Stepp

Bill Stepp

Retreat across America

(p.25) 1 Bill Stepp
The Beautiful Music All Around Us

Stephen Wade

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on Kentuckian Bill Stepp, who worked as a logger in his younger days, then later turned his energies to fiddling for neighborhood hoedowns. Stepp is the creative source of an American anthem. In 1942 his rendition of the tune “Bonaparte's Retreat” became incorporated, nearly note for note, in the score of Rodeo, Aaron Copland's acclaimed modern ballet. By the early 1970s it appeared as “Hoedown,” an FM radio hit for Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, a symphonically oriented English rock band. Later, it formed the soundtrack for the beef growers' commercial, and finally, in this, an example of its continuing presence in American life, it recurs in the music piped down the hallways of a modern airport.

Keywords:   Bill Stepp, musicians, fiddlers, Library of Congress recordings, hoedowns, Bonaparte's Retreat, American anthem

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