In the early 1980s, Jay Ungar, his wife and fellow musician, Molly Mason, were running the Ashokan Camp, a summer arts school specializing in fiddle and dancing, at the Ashokan Field Campus of SUNY New Paltz, New York. Ungar composed the music and Mason later give it its name to commemorate the 1982 session of the camp.
Ashokan Farewell” was not written in the 19th century, but was instead written at the tail end of the 20th. And it wasn’t a Southern waltz; it was created in the style of a Scottish lament—and in celebration of a town, and a reservoir, in upstate New York. It became the de facto theme song for the Ken Burns miniseries The Civil War, which premiered over 30 years ago.
I hope you enjoy this somber tune!