Friday, July 15, 2011

Fiddler's Dream

“Fiddler’s Dream,” derived from an old fiddle tune originally from Scotland and Ireland, began to be played in America as early as the 1700s. Early titles from Scotland include: “The De’il Among the Tailors,” “Devil’s Tailor” and “Devil’s Dream.”

In America, Devil’s Dream was known primarily as a Northern tune although it became popular throughout the country.

Early fiddlers in America could name among their ranks the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, learned to write down his favorite fiddle tunes as a part of his early musical education and regularly practiced his violin three hours a day! Jefferson continued to collect American music, both folk songs and works of emerging composers, throughout his life. In his journal, Jefferson wrote that one of his favorite fiddle tunes to play was “Devil’s Dream.”

Before their historic feud, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson often played violin duets together. According to Jefferson’s farmservant, Isaac, the “Old Master…kept three fiddles; played in the afternoons and sometimes after supper.” Jefferson’s brother Randolph also took violin lessons as a youth and played his fiddle at Jefferson’s Monticello Plantation – reportedly both brothers and servants at times playing and dancing half the night!

Purchase this piece performed by Mark O'Connor, titled "Devil's Dream" off of his album, Liberty!

From Book II of the O'Connor Method.

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