'Yankee Doodle' with variations is the most concise way to describe the piece commissioned by the New Haven Symphony Orchestra to commemorate Conneticut's participation in The United States Bicentennial. 'Yankee Doodle', a tune dating back to the Middle Ages in Holland and England (and used by the British as early as 1755 to poke fun at untrained American troops in the French and Indian war) is interwoven with other folk and national melodies to stitch a patchwork or a musical collage. It is a personal view of American history.
'To explain my approach to They All Sang Yankee Doodle, I must explain my own background, because the piece is made up of musical memories imprinted from early childhood.
My earliest musical memories are a juxtaposition of sounds - hymns and Bach chorales from the church next door, where my mother was choir director; early twenties jazz from my oldest brother's dance band; classical piano from my middle brother and my mother's piano studio; and cowboy songs and turn-of-the-century ballads that I have always identified with my father. Concord, California, where I was born was once part of a land grant from the Mexican government and the Spanish-Mexican influence remained strong even as the town expanded from a sleepy settlement into an American microcosmos with a wide variety of ethnic groups. Over fifty years ago most of us who sang 'Yankee Doodle' in Concord could not trace our ancestry to the founding fathers. Those of us with Anglo-Saxon names were at the end of the Westward push, our forefathers having left behind the Eastern cities a few generations before, settling for a time mid-continent, then restlessly pushing further West. Little is known of my paternal grandfather, for instance, except that he had come to California from Indiana, walking across Nevada desert to become one of the first settlers in Mordoc Indian territory.
Of course, the native American, the Indian, was there to greet each new migration, and it is his theme that stands alone in the opening bars of the piece, in sharp contrast to the turn-of-the-century section where the melting pot begins to spill all our families here, and despite our differences in ethnic background, we understand those first defiant Americans who sand 'Yankee Doodle' right back to the King's soldiers, transforming a song of ridcule into a hymn of patriotism and a song of survival'. - Dave Brubeck