The historically accurate music on this Grammy-winning soundtrack to Ken Burn’s PBS series, says GQ, "achieves an eloquence parallel to that of the narration, and it reinforces the visual illusion of aching, coming-to-life immediacy." Features the evocative "Ashokan Farewell."
1991 Grammy Award Winner: Best Traditional Folk Album
Nonesuch released the official soundtrack recording to The Civil War, the five-part film by Ken Burns deemed one of the most popular offering ever presented on public television, in 1990. With over 14 million viewers each night, The Civil War earned high critical acclaim and a 13 percent market share in the Nielsen ratings for its debut telecast. The documentary series traces the personal and political fortunes of both the leaders and the soldiers who were involved in America’s greatest internal conflict.
Featuring traditional American music ranging from brass bands to gospel choirs, “the music in The Civil War achieves an eloquence parallel to that of the narration, and it reinforces the visual illusion of aching, coming-to-life immediacy. All the music is contemporary to the period; Burns even hired musicians to play instruments that are no longer made.” (GQ) Ken Burns, the creator of the series, and John Colby served as producers of the recording.
Among the well-known American songs featured in The Civil War are “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Dixie,” “Shenandoah,” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” The theme music to the series, “Ashokan Farewell”, a haunting fiddle tune, opens and closes the 30-track recording. It also includes two spoken word excerpts of an opening track taken from the writings of Oliver Wendell Holmes, and a reading of a love letter from a Union soldier to his wife which serves as the finale of the recording.
Produced by Ken Burns and John Colby
Music research and coordination: Jesse Carr
Ashokan Farewell from Waltz of the Wind by Fiddle Fever, produced by Jay Ungar and Fiddle Fever, and We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder from River of Life: Harmony of One, by Bernice Johnson Reagon, produced by Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon, both available from Flying Fish Records. Dixie produced by Bobby Horton.
Engineers: Billy Shaw, Don Wershba, Michael Golub, Paul Goodman, Scott Hull
Recorded at Soundesign, Brattleboro, Vermont; Soundtrack, 39th Street Music, and BMG Studios, New York
Mastered by Robert C. Ludwig
Design by Kristeen Ballard
Cover Image: The 5th Vermont at Camp Griffin, Virginia, at the beginning of the Civil War, Library of Congress
The Old Bethpage Brass Band, Dr. Kirby Jolly, director
The Abyssinian Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir, Dr. Jewel T. Thompson, director
The New American Brass Band, Robert Sheldon, director