Aaron Copland

Suite from Our Town

            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

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 “American Sound."  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

The Red Pony

            Copland wrote the scores for eight films—including two documentaries—beginning in 1939.  He was in the forefront of those who brought a modern musical style to a Hollywood that had been thoroughly dominated by pseudo-romantic film composers.  His music for the film dramatization (1949—starring Myrna Loy and Robert Mitchum) of John Steinbeck’s The Red Pony was composed in 1948, and a suite of six movements for concert performance was subsequently extracted.

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.