Year of composition
This work, written in 1960, has been performed many times both in America and abroad. The composer says: “In reality the title refers to a style or character of expression, since the movements are not dance movements at all but merely express the character or mood of certain traditional American dances.” This is therefore, in the literal and best sense of the word, “abstract” music; not a reproduction of a country dance or ballroom dance, but an evocation of their spirit, exactly as a Mozart minuet is not to be danced to, but apotheosizes that courtly diversion.
We will then not look for literal correspondences, but rather note that the composer has done his job very well indeed, imposing shape both on the work as a whole (the old fashioned fast-slow-fast scheme that has served composers satisfactorily from long before Bach down to recent times) and on the individual movements, which are of the right length and elegantly articulated. The orchestra is big but economically handled; the style is twentieth century but not avantgarde.