American music of the revolutionary era drew upon the cultural influences of the people of the new nation—English, Scottish, Irish, German and African—and blended into a sound of its own. Through the interest and involvement of a remarkable collection of artists, that music has been recreated for LIBERTY! in a memorable soundtrack and score, from Sony Classical.
LIBERTY! features an original score by Richard Einhorn as well as arrangements of traditional Revolutionary-era folk melodies and original compositions by Mark O'Connor, performed by O'Connor, a Grammy Award-winning violinist; Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma; Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and trumpet player Wynton Marsalis; musicologists David and Ginger Hildebrand; and the Nashville Symphony, conducted by Kenneth Schermerhorn. O'Connor's "Song of the Liberty Bell" is the series' main theme. James Taylor and O'Connor perform the traditional song, "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier," for the closing credits.
The music of LIBERTY! blends traditional music with original melodies written with the era's music in mind. David and Ginger Hildebrand aided O'Connor in his research of the older music, which included a sojourn into the notebooks of Thomas Jefferson, who was a passionate violinist. "Jefferson kept fiddle tunes he enjoyed in a journal," O'Connor says. "It's one of the few documents that specifically states which fiddle tunes were played in America then."
O'Connor and Marsalis delighted diners at a Manhattan restaurant last spring with an improptu concert. O'Connor had invited Marsalis to lunch to discuss the soundtrack for LIBERTY! Both had instruments. In describing the music for the series, O'Connor decided that an illustration was better than an explanation, and pulled out his violin. Marsalis joined in and the lunch crowd was treated to a revolutionary era musical jam session by two of the nation's greatest musicians.
The soundtrack for LIBERTY! is available now from shopPBS.