|DH0257: Ashokan Farewell composed by Jay Ungar
This composition is part of a story of how “a Scottish lament written by a Jewish guy from the Bronx would become the de facto anthem of the American Civil War".
Jay Ungar and his wife and fellow musician, Molly Mason, were running the Ashokan Camp, a summer arts school specializing in fiddle and dancing. While there, Ray Ungar composed the tune and their group, Fiddle Fever—recorded the song, including it as part of their 1983 album Waltz of the Wind.
The inclusion meant that the song would need a name. Mason suggested “Ashokan Farewell.”.
The release of the album generally coincided with the years Ken Burns spent researching and producing The Civil War documentary. In 1984 in particular, Burns was on the lookout for songs that could serve as the soundtrack for the documentary.
Ken Burns heard the album and the rest is history. A full newspaper article about the creation and history of Ashokan Farewell is in the newspaper website:
Megan Garber, 25 September 2015.