Aaron Copland

Appalachian Spring: Concert Suite for Full Orchestra

            Aaron Copland is generally considered America’s greatest composer.  That is, it is he, through his compositions and through his essays, books, lectures, and other thoughts on music who has done more than any other individual to establish a corpus of “serious” music in this country that largely defined an “America” style.  He lived a long life; influenced generations of young composers; advanced the cause of art music in this country; and composed music that delighted millions in the audiences of ballet, chamber music, symphonic music, radio, television, and the movies.  The son of Jewish immigrants, he lived for most of his life in New York City—or close by—but assimilated so much of the disparate elements of our culture that he came to be considered as representative of all

Billy the Kid

           If there ever was an American “composer laureate,” then Aaron Copland is surely he.   A native of Brooklyn, the son of Jewish immigrants of Lithuanian descent, he established what many call the “American sound” in art music.  He had gone to Paris, like so many during the 1920s, to study advanced composition, and his musical style when he returned was accordingly advanced, some would say “academic.”   It certainly was often dissonant, and in no way exhibited the popular tunefulness that later made him the darling of mainstream America.  But then, like so many other artists during the depression, he turned to a simpler, more accessible style, rooted in the populism of the time.  Thus we have such evergreen compositions as Appalachian Spring, Rodeo, Fanfare for the Common Ma

Concerto for Clarinet

            Aaron Copland is generally considered America’s greatest composer.  That is, it is he, through his compositions and through his essays, books, lectures, and other thoughts on music, who has done more than any other individual to establish a corpus of “serious” music in this country that has largely defined an “American” style.  He lived a long life; influenced generations of young composers; advanced the cause of art music in this country; and composed music that has delighted millions in the audiences of ballet, chamber music, symphonic music, radio, television, and the movies.  The son of Jewish immigrants, he lived for most of his life in New York City—or close by—but assimilated so much of the disparate elements of our culture that he came to be considered as representat

El sálon México

            Aaron Copland is a man who is hard to pin down.  Clearly America’s most well-known and respected “classical” composer, he was the creator of some of the country’s most beloved compositions that brought the “American” style to the concert hall.  Yet, for all that, he was a musician with a remarkably broad range of personal interests and musical styles.  His deep intellect and discerning tastes probed and were influenced by about all of the important composers and approaches to composition of the twentieth century.  He spent time in his early maturity in France, where he immersed himself in the European musical avant-garde; he was interested in and was influenced by jazz; he maintained a life-long interest in the music of Latin America; he participated fully in the burgeoning

Fanfare for the Common Man

            For the 1942-43 concert season, the distinguished English conductor of the Cincinnati Symphonic, Eugene Goossens, conceived the idea of commissioning fanfares from mostly American composers to open each of the forthcoming concerts.  Those were dark times, indeed, for the world’s democracies, and he sought to more or less repeat his success with a similar project in England during the First World War.  The subsequent eighteen fanfares were written by many luminaries of the American music world at that time, and they vary significantly in musical style—and lasting success.  The list of those to whom the various works were dedicated may seem a bit curious to us today, but they do reflect somewhat the unfocussed—some would say naïve—conception of the task ahead as America went t

Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo

            Aaron Copland is a man who is hard to pin down.  Clearly America’s most well-known and respected “classical” composer, he was the creator of some of the country’s most beloved compositions that brought the “American” style to the concert hall.  Yet, for all that, he was a musician with a remarkably broad range of personal interests and musical styles.  His deep intellect and discerning tastes probed and were influenced by about all of the important composers and approaches to composition of the twentieth century.  He spent time in his early maturity in France, where he immersed himself in the European musical avant-garde; he was interested in and was influenced by jazz; he maintained a life-long interest in the music of Latin America; he participated fully in the burgeoning

Letter from Home

            It is difficult, indeed, in these times truly to understand the profound differences—between then and now--of the impact of our nation’s wars upon our national experience.  Our recent wars, while demanding great sacrifice of those directly involved, pale in their engagement of the vast majority of our people in comparison with the generation of World War II.  In those parlous times of the forties, the nation’s very existence was at stake, and almost every man, woman, and child was enlisted in the effort to ensure the triumph of our values.  Twenty-four seven—there was only one subject in the national conversation.

Symphony No. 3

            Aaron Copland is generally considered America’s greatest composer.  That is, it is he, through his compositions and through his essays, books, lectures, and other thoughts on music, who has done more than any other individual to establish a corpus of “serious” music in this country that has largely defined an “America” style.  He lived a long life; influenced generations of young composers; advanced the cause of art music in this country; and composed music that has delighted millions in the audiences of ballet, chamber music, symphonic music, radio, television, and the movies.  The son of Jewish immigrants, he lived for most of his life in New York City—or close by—but assimilated so much of the disparate elements of our culture that he came to be considered as representati

Three Latin American Sketches

        Copland is clearly regarded as the most significant American composer of  “classical” music, and that reputation is considerably enhanced by the association with him of what many musical critics call the “American” style.  It’s really difficult to exaggerate his impact upon serious music in American culture.   The importance of his compositions is self-evident, of course, not only intrinsically, but equally so in their influence on a legion of young American composers.  And in twentieth-century America no other composer approaching his stature labored so assiduously as essayist, author, lecturer, patron, and teacher.  His impact was profound.