Billy the Kid (ballet)
Billy the Kid is a 1938 ballet
Ballet is a type of performance dance, that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. The early portions preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were presented in large chambers with...

 written by the American composer Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later in his career a conductor of his own and other American music. He was instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, and is often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers"...

 and commissioned by Lincoln Kirstein
Lincoln Kirstein
Lincoln Edward Kirstein was an American writer, impresario, art connoisseur, and cultural figure in New York City...

. It was choreographed by Eugene Loring
Eugene Loring
Eugene Loring American ballet and other dance-forms dancer, choreographer and teacher and administrator.-Biography:...

 for Ballet Caravan
New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet is a ballet company founded in 1948 by choreographer George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Leon Barzin was the company's first music director. Balanchine and Jerome Robbins are considered the founding choreographers of the company...

. Along with Rodeo
Rodeo (Copland)
Rodeo is a ballet scored by Aaron Copland and choreographed by Agnes de Mille, which premiered in 1942. Subtitled "The Courting at Burnt Ranch", the ballet consists of five sections: "Buckaroo Holiday", "Ranch House Party", "Corral Nocturne", "Saturday Night Waltz", and "Hoe-Down"...

and Appalachian Spring
Appalachian Spring
Appalachian Spring is a modern score composed by Aaron Copland that premiered in 1944 and has achieved widespread and enduring popularity as an orchestral suite...

, it is one of Copland's most popular and widely performed pieces. The ballet is most famous for its incorporation of many cowboy tunes and American folk songs.

It was premiered on October 16, 1938, in Chicago by the Ballet Caravan Company, with pianists Arthur Gold
Gold and Fizdale
Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale were an American two-piano ensemble; they were also authors and television cooking show hosts....

 and Walter Hendl
Walter Hendl
Walter Hendl was an American conductor, composer and pianist.-Biography:Hendl was born in West New York, New Jersey, and later went on to study with Fritz Reiner at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. From 1939 to 1941 he taught at Sarah Lawrence College in New York City...

 performing a two-piano version of the score. The first performance of Billy the Kid in New York City occurred on May 24, 1939, with an orchestra conducted by Fritz Kitzinger.


The story follows the life of the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid
William H. Bonney William H. Bonney William H. Bonney (born William Henry McCarty, Jr. est. November 23, 1859 – c. July 14, 1881, better known as Billy the Kid but also known as Henry Antrim, was a 19th-century American gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War and became a frontier...

. It begins with the sweeping song "The Open Prairie" and shows many pioneers trekking westward. The action shifts to a small frontier town, in which a young Billy and his mother are present. Billy's mother is killed by an outlaw, and Billy himself kills the murderer, and goes on the run.

The scene then shifts to years in the future. Billy is an outlaw living in the desert. He is captured by a posse (in which the ensuing gun battle features prominent percussive effects) and taken to jail, but manages to escape after stealing a gun from the warden during a game of cards. Returning to his hideout, Billy thinks he is safe, but Pat Garrett
Pat Garrett
Patrick Floyd "Pat" Garrett was an American Old West lawman, bartender, and customs agent who was best known for killing Billy the Kid...

catches up and kills Billy. The ballet ends with the 'open prairie' theme and pioneers once again travelling west.
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