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Composer's 'Crazy Horse' Symphony Is Massive Tribute to Lakota Leader


Celebrated Lakota leader Crazy Horse is the subject of a full symphony that will debut this Saturday in Great Falls, Montana.

Titled "Crazy Horse: Legendary Hero of the Lakota," the four-movement work is the latest by prolific composer John Harmon. Throughout his career, Harmon has incorporated Native American themes into his music.

Gordon Johnson, music director of the Great Falls Symphony, has effusive praise for Harmon's "Crazy Horse." "The piece is a magnum opus, really," he told Post-Crescent Media. "It's huge. It's huge in scope. It's a full symphony orchestra. ... And it's huge in length and its power and emotional content. It's a big piece. ... It really reflects who [Harmon] is. I'm really excited to reveal it to the audience."

RELATED: Native History: Descendants Remember Battle of Little Big Horn

Although Harmon's work is on an important Native historical figure, the music itself does not attempt to imitate Native music.

"I've read a number of books specifically on [Crazy Horse], and I just find him to be one of the most heroic and enigmatic figures," Harmon, 79, told Post Crescent, "but also a man ... who was an outstanding individual."

The four movements of Harmon's symphony are "Youth: The Journey Begins," "The Deepening," "Little Big Horn," and "My Lands are Where My Dead are Buried."

The January 17 concert at the Mansfield Theater in Great Falls, Montana, is titled "Dreamers, Visionaries and Leaders," and consists of a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., followed by "Crazy Horse: Legendary Hero of the Lakota." Visit for more information or to purchase tickets.

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