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How the West Was Lost

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Album Review

In 1993, the Discovery Channel aired a six-hour miniseries documenting the experience of the Native Americans during America's westward expansion. Peter Kater created a three-hour score for How the West Was Lost. He captured 65 minutes of his favorites for the CD. His friend R. Carlos Nakai co-wrote many of the pieces and is one of the featured musicians. This is deep, soulful, and mournful music. Kater and Nakai celebrate nothing. They lament the loss of culture and heritage. This is a unique perspective on a topic that is often glamorized. There have been at least two similar documentaries with equally mournful soundtracks. The West and 500 Nations are comparable CDs.

Customer Reviews


I've had this album for years, having seen the series when it aired. It's always been a favourite, although its a long and heavy dose of melancholy. Nevertheless, the combination of instruments and vocals are beautiful, and the melodies are flowing and gorgeous -- haunting, even. It's truly evocative and quality stuff. Highly recommended.


I bought this on CD many moons ago after seeing the series screen on UK television (I believe it was produced by the Discovery Channel in the US). It deserved to receive a much better slot here, as showing it mid-morning during the school holidays I suspect that it was largely overlooked. It helped to rebalance the version of the 'west' which I'd grown up with, ie. the hollywood version. It was hard to comprehend that some of the men and women contributing to the programme were only one generation away from those who perished in the latter stages of the final suppression of the native american people.

The music, like the series itself, is utterly affecting. It is primeval in one sense, but haunting and emotional in another. I'm writing this having just listened to it again for the first time in quite a few years. Whilst I'm a big fan of more recent 'ambient dance/world' music, this is refreshingly pure and subtle and is all the more moving for being so.

Great to see this on iTunes — both volumes are highly recommended.


Born: Munich, Germany

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Pianist/composer Peter Kater is known for his scores for television, film, and theater, as well as for his own recordings of light jazz and new age music. Born in Germany, Kater moved from Munich to New Jersey when he was four. He began piano lessons three years later and studied classical music until taking up rock & roll in his early teens. At the age of 18, Kater moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he played improvised music and lived for over a decade before moving to rural Virginia, where he built...
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How the West Was Lost, Peter Kater
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