George F. Root

Composer(s): George F. Root
Album Title: The Haymakers 
Cat. No.: 80234
Genre: Classical
Description: The Haymakers

North Texas State University Grand Chorus/Frank McKinley; Erma Rose, piano

When The Haymakers was performed in Chicago in 1860,  the Tribune for January 9 praised:

... the freshness of its music, which, combined with the naturalness of the plot, depicts with great truthfulness, while it slightly idealizes, the labors of the American hayfield.... The Italian opera walks on stilts, deals in exaggeration, and treats largely of kings, queens, dukes, and nobles. This is purely democratic, exalts labor, ridicules the useless city dandy, and holds up for your admiration the sturdy Farmer and his household, who learn from nature, the pure, the true, the beautiful....

Making its first appearance on CD, The Haymakers is an integral and indispensable part of the mosaic of the emerging American musical culture of the nineteenth century. It is a secular dramatic cantata on an American subject and was written in 1857, when large-scale American works were not yet supposed to have developed. It is the best-wrought and was the most successful of the five penned by George F. Root (1820-1895), remembered primarily for rousing Civil War songs like "The Battle Hymn of Freedom" and parlor songs modeled on those of Stephen Foster. Root was also a highly regarded choral instructor as well as an accomplished singer. Musically, The Haymakers reflects his intimate knowledge of the vocal and choral music of Haydn, Mendelssohn, and Schubert, among others. Charm and a robust vitality of spirit imbue this unusual and important piece of early Americana-a paean to the rugged individual spirit of a young nation struggling to assert its own cultural identity. 
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