Douglas Back | The Banjo Goes Highbrow

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The Banjo Goes Highbrow

by Douglas Back

Banjo music as it would have been heard in the concert halls and salons of Victorian America. Douglas Back plays the repertoire and classical arrangements of the great virtuoso classic banjoists of yesteryear, Farland, Bacon, Van Eps, and Hunter.
Genre: Classical: Traditional
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. La Zingara
2:18 $0.99
2. Flight of the Bumblebee
1:25 $0.99
3. El Contrabandista-Bolero
5:18 $0.99
4. The Enchantress-Valse Brilliante
3:13 $0.99
5. Valse, Opus 64, No. 2
2:48 $0.99
6. Violin Concerto-3rd movement
6:54 $0.99
7. The London Club Parade
2:57 $0.99
8. Hungarian Rhapsody
4:19 $0.99
9. Poet and Peasant Overture
4:20 $0.99
10. Variations on Massa's in the Cold,Cold Ground
4:26 $0.99
11. Jacko on Parade
2:42 $0.99
12. West Lawn Polka
4:13 $0.99
13. Polonaise No. 2
3:19 $0.99
14. Rose Leaves Gavotte
4:58 $0.99
15. White Star Line March
2:05 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
THE BANJO GOES HIGHBROW-Douglas Back-classic 5-string banjo

The Banjo Goes Highbrow is a highly entertaining and unique CD featuring classical arrangements and characteristic works for banjo as were typically performed in the concert halls and parlor rooms during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

While classical music on the banjo may seem somewhat of a novelty today, this has not always been the case. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in an effort to elevate the banjo from its rather crude mid 19th century minstrel show associations, banjoists developed a repertoire that included everything from arrangements of operatic overtures to transcriptions of virtuoso violin works. Between the years 1880 and 1915, more than 10,000 compositions and arrangements were published in the United States and in England for what is now referred to as the "classic 5-string fingerstyle banjo." Using gut-strung, open-back banjos and bare fingers to pluck the strings, banjoists of the time developed a right hand playing technique modeled after that of 19th century guitarists.

Douglas Back is one of just a handful of classic banjo virtuosos in the world today who performs the repertoire and arrangements of the great classic banjoists of yesteryear. Trained as a classical guitarist and considered one of the foremost authorities and interpreters of 19th century American guitar music, Douglas Back took up the classic banjo in 1998 in an effort to help recreate the early 20th century American fretted instrument ensemble known as The Big Trio. The Big Trio was the name newspapers of the time gave to three stellar fretted instrument soloists, Frederick Bacon (1871-1948) on classic 5-string banjo, William Foden (1860-1947) on classic guitar, and Giuseppe Pettine (1874-1966) on mandolin, who joined forces and toured the United States and British Columbia in 1911-12. Though Back originally intended to recreate the guitar position of William Foden (whose guitar music he had previously recorded and published), finding an available banjoist who could play in the style of Frederick Bacon proved to be futile. Taking up the instrument primarily just to fill this role, he soon became fascinated with the nearly forgotten 19th and early 20th century virtuoso classic banjo tradition and began to devote himself to its mastery. He has since gone on to become one of the leading players of this banjo style.

Press Reviews:

"This is probably the best banjo CD to come my way!"
Albert Lyle reviewer for The Banjo (UK)

"I was blown away by your CD! I have never before heard single string playing like that!"
Don Van Palta-National 4-String Banjo Hall of Fame Inductee

"Back's artistry and technique on this CD is outstanding. His lightning finger-style playing smoothly negotiates the challenging Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky Korsakov...This CD establishes Douglas Back in the same class as past banjo greats such as Alfred Farland, Parke Hunter and Frederick J. Bacon to whom the CD is dedicated."
Lowell Schreyer -FIGA magazine

"Banjo aficionados should buy this CD just to see what's possible on the banjo and perhaps how virtuoso players might have sounded like a century ago."
David Price-The Banjo Times (UK)




to write a review


Outstanding CD...shows the versitility of the banjo in the hands of a master.
Doug Back has mastered most fretted instruments and the 5-string classic banjo is no exception. This is wonderful CD for those that love the banjo and those that might want a new listening experience. Highly recommended as are his other recordings.

Dave Raphaelson

Doug plays with the spirit and ability of the finest banjoists of any era
Without doubt this is the finest classic banjo playing I have ever heard. The music is evocative of a more elegant era , and played with superb technique and abilty by Mr Back.I would reccomend this C.D. to any one with any interest in fretted instruments. I have heard many other classic banjo discs. This is the only one that inspired me.

Nan Dorsey

I expected virtuosity, but not music so poignantly nostalgic and powerful at the same time. Dave Raphaelson is right--"the music is evocative of a more elegant era." A more innocent era, too. Thank you, Douglas Back, for re-creating a century through superb technique and sensitivity to the powerful metaphors inherent in the instrument itself.