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  • Milton Horne

It's the holidays (Buckaroos)!

Thinking about holiday advertising caused me to remember one “holiday” I’d rather not have lolling around in my memory: the time I was the substitute pianist for a university orchestra concert that was hosting Aaron Copland as guest conductor. I wasn’t even a piano major, just an erstwhile rehearsal accompanist! But I got asked to fill in nonetheless. That’s right! It happened sometime in 1978 at the University of Missouri, in November, right around Copland’s birthday (November 14).

We played, among other of his famous pieces, the four dance pieces from Rodeo, not the least of which were nos. I, “Buckaroo Holiday,” and IV, “Hoedown,” this latter a wonderful piece with an imposing piano score. In one of the few rehearsals, Mr. Copland did not like the way I counted his music, I remember. And after one too many of my missed entrances he cut off the orchestra and addressed me, “What’s going on back there with that piano?” “Do you know how to count?” I yelled back (like a know-it-all eighteen-year old who had no earthly clue who I was talking to) “Yes, I do.” He said, with rising ire, “Bring that score up here and show me.” What followed was one of the most mortifying scenes of my young life, wherein I tried to count the beats for him--in his music-- without embarrassing myself in front of the other orchestra members. I get chills thinking of it. But it’s a great story!

Have an embarrassing musical story that can top that? Go ahead and respond to this post.

Older and wiser!

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