Ashokan Farewell (the theme song for Ken Burn’s Documentary on the Civil War in the US)

The Ashokan Farewell is a waltz in the style of a Scottish lament that was composed by folk musician Jay Unger in 1982. In 1980 Jay Unger and his wife Molly Mason started an annual fiddle and dance camp called the “Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp” at what was then called the Ashokan Field Campus of SUNY New Paltz (now the Ashokan Center) in Upstate New York. In 1982 after the camp had closed for the season, Jay was feeling a sense of loss. He missed the music, dancing, and the people and the way of life at the camp. He composed a lament (which was unnamed at the time.) His wife Molly suggested the tune be called Ashokan Farewell. It was recorded in 1983 by Jay and Molly’s band Fiddle Fever. Ken Burns (the famous documentary maker) heard it. It was featured in Ken Burn’s series “The Civil War.” After that the piece became a major hit (and the rest as they say is history.) Here is the recording that Jay Unger and Molly Mason and their band Fiddle Fever made for Ken Burn’s Civil War series.


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