Friday, July 15, 2011

Bonaparte's Retreat

The melody of “Bonaparte’s Retreat” was originally a Scotch/Irish tune played on bagpipes. In 1815, the tune was named for the military defeat of the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. It is commonly thought that this battle, fought at Waterloo, Russia, was
the turning point for Bonaparte and prevented him from achieving his ambition of conquering the world.

When Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States, Bonaparte acquired the Territory of Louisiana and owned a home in New Orleans. It is assumed that he had his sights set on acquiring much more of the American West to add to his Empire. The defeat of Bonaparte’s army at Waterloo was cause for celebration around the world, and “Bonaparte’s Retreat” has been a favorite tune for Americans to play ever since. In 1946, country music stars Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart wrote a hit song using the melody of this fiddle tune. The song was recorded by Kay Star.

From Book I of the O'Connor Method.

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