Jay Ungar (b. 14 November 1946, Bronx, N.Y.) is an American folk musician and composer.
Ungar was born the son of immigrant Jewish parents from Eastern Europe. At the age of seven, he started taking violin lessons. He was soon able to pick out tunes by ear and he began writing his own melodies. He frequented Greenwich Village music venues during his formative period in the 1960s. His classmates at the High School for the Music and Art introduced him to bluegrass and traditional folk music. He traveled through North Carolina and Tennessee in the early 1960’s in search of folk music. In the late 1960s, he became a member of Cat Mother and the All Night News Boys and, later, the Putnam String County Band.
Although he has often played with David Bromberg, he is probably best known for Ashokan Farewell (1982), originally composed as a lament, which was used as the theme tune to the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War (1990). Many of his other compositions are familiar to contra dancers, notably The Wizards' Walk.
Works for Winds
- Ashokan Farewell (arr. Custer) (1983)