Aaron Copland Biography Fanfare for the common Man
Aaron Copland American composer, educator, writer, and conductor. He was instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, and is often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers". His early works , including the ballet Grogh (1922), the Dance Symphony (1925), the Symphonic Ode (1929), and Piano Variations (1930), quickly gained him a reputation in America as a daring modernist . However, he is best known to the public for the works he wrote in the 1930s and 40s in a deliberately more accessible style than his earlier pieces, these works include the ballets “Appalachian Spring”, “Billy the Kidd”, “Rodeo” and his orchestral works, “Fanfare for the Common Man”, “Salon Mexico”, and “ A Lincoln Portrait for speaker and orchestra”. The open, slowly changing harmonies of many of his works are archetypical of what many people consider to be the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit. He wrote music in different styles at different periods of his life. In addition to his ballets and orchestral works, he produced music in many other genres including chamber music, vocal works, opera and film scores.
<ul><li>Copland was also active as a critic, mentor, advocate, concert organizer and public lecturer throughout the United States. He played a decisive role in the growth of classical music in the Americas in the 20th century. </li></ul><ul><li>He was a Lecturer on contemporary music at New School for Social Research, (1927-1937) and at Harvard University (1935 & 1944), assistant director of Berkshire Music Center (1940), Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University (1951-1952). </li></ul><ul><li>Copland’s eight film scores (1939–1961), composed for two documentaries and six feature films, set new standards for American cinema in their subtle underscoring and refined dramatic sensibility. </li></ul><ul><li>In addition, he tried to educate the public musically by publishing several books, including one essay on his own biography. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What to Listen for in Music (1939). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Our New Music (1941). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Music and Imagination (1952). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Copland on Music (1960). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The New Music 1900-1960 (1968). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Copland: 1900 through 1942 (1984). </li></ul></ul></ul>
Musical Education Studied music (piano) privately under Leopold Wolfsohn, Victor Wittgenstein and Clarence Adler. He studied composition with Rubin Goldmark (1917-1921), Then he studied in France at The American Conservatory in Fontainbleau (1921) with Antonin Vidal (composition) and Albert Wolff (conducting) and after that he studied in Paris, (1921-1924) with Nadia Boulanger (composition) and Ricardo Viñes (piano). Awards Guggenheim Foundation fellowship (1925 and 1926) Pulitzer Prize in Music (1945), for Appalachian Spring New York Music Critics Circle Award (1945), for Appalachian Spring New York Music Critics Circle Award (1946), for Third Symphony Academy Award for musical score, “Oscar” for The Heiress (1950) Gold medal from American Academy of Arts and Letters (1956) Edward MacDowell Medal, (1961) Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964) National Medal of the Arts, (1986) Congressional Gold Medal (1986). Appalachian Spring Variations on a Shaker Hymn
Copland in his own words: "To a composer, music is a kind of language, behind the written score, even behind the various sounds they make when played, is a language of the emotions. The composer has it in his power to make music speak of many things: tender, harsh and lively, consoling and challenging things.“ “ Most people seem to resent the controversial in music; they don't want their listening habits disturbed. They use music as a couch; they want to be pillowed on it, relaxed and consoled for the stress of daily living”. “ But serious music was never meant to be used as a soporific. Contemporary music, especially, is created to wake you up, not put you to sleep. It is meant to stir and excite you, to move you, it may even exhaust you. But isn't that the kind of stimulation you go to the theater for or read a book for? Why make an exception for music?”. “ Music can only be really alive when there are listeners who are really alive. To listen intently, to listen consciously, to listen with one's whole intelligence is the least we can do in the furtherance of an art that is one of the glories of mankind”.
<ul><li>Copland most famous works: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Opera </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Tender Land </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ballets </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Billy the Kid (1938) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rodeo (1942) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Appalachian Spring (1944). </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Orchestral works: </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Symphonic Ode (1929 & 1955) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Suite: Billy the Kid (1938) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>El Salon México (1936) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Quiet City (1939) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A Lincoln Portrait for speaker and orchestra (1942) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fanfare for the Common Man (1942) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Suite, Rodeo (1943) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Suite, Appalachian Spring (1945); </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Music for Movies </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Heiress (1949) (Hollywood ‘Oscar’). </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
George Whitefield Chadwick (1854-1931) Charles Ives (1874-1954) Charles Tomlinson Griffes (1884-1920) George Gershwin (1898-1937) Roy Harris (1898-1979) Duke Ellington (1899-1974) Randall Thompson (1899-1984) Aaron Copland (1900-1990) Samuel Barber (1910-1981) Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) Contemporary American Classical Composers Appalachian Spring The Revivalist and his Flock
Biography Copland’s parents were immigrants from small towns in Lithuania. His father, Harris, reached New York via Glasgow and Manchester while still in his teens, adopting an Anglicized version of the family surname, Kaplan. His mother, Sarah Mittenthal, arrived in the USA as a young girl and grew up in the American Midwest and Texas before settling in New York in 1881. After their marriage, the Copland’s lived above their successful Brooklyn department store; Aaron later credited his ability in business to his experience helping to run the store. The youngest of five children, he was especially close to his sister Laurine, who taught him the fundamentals of piano playing. and also introduced him to ragtime and opera. At about the age of seven, he began to make up tunes at the piano , and by the age of 12 was notating short pieces. He received his first formal piano lessons (1913–1917) from Leopold Wolfsohn , who assigned him pieces by Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin.
In 1917 Copland began theory and composition lessons with Rubin Goldmark and rather than pursuing a university degree after his graduation from Boys’ High School in 1918, he continued his studies with Goldmark until 1921. He also studied the piano with Victor Wittgenstein (1917–1919) and Clarence Adler (1919–1921). Copland spent the summer of 1921 at the American Conservatory Fontainebleau , where his teachers included Paul Antonin Vidal (composition) and Albert Wolff (conducting). He pursued further study in Paris (1921–1924) with Ricardo Viñes (piano) and Nadia Boulanger (composition) . Nadia Boulanger was by far his most important teacher, among her many attributes, Copland especially valued her thorough grasp of music literature, her sensitivity to clarity, elegance and formal continuity and her confidence in her young American students. During his years in Paris, Copland attended classes, museums, plays, ballets and concerts In addition, he travelled to England, Belgium, Italy, Austria and Germany, all the while meeting composers, examining scores and hearing new music.
He responded especially strongly to the music of Stravinsky , the ‘hero’ of his student days, and Milhaud, whose assimilation of French, Jewish and American traits he particularly esteemed. He also developed an admiration for the music of Fauré and Mahler, considering the contrapuntal textures of both composers progressive. Under Boulanger’s tutelage, Copland produced his first orchestral score, the Ballet Grohg , which he completed upon his return to the USA. Even before he returned home, however, Boulanger arranged a major American première for another Copland work: an Organ Concerto to be performed by both the New York Symphonic Orchestra under Walter Damrosch and the Boston Symphonic Orchestra under Sergey Koussevitzky, with herself as soloist. The resultant Organ Symphony (1924) initiated an important collaboration between Copland and Koussevitzky, who was to perform 12 Copland works, including several that he personally commissioned and introduced. In 1940, Koussevitzky appointed Copland assistant director of the Berkshire Music Center, where he taught most summers until 1965. The conductor became for Copland a standard of ‘courage’ and ‘vitality’ in an often conventional and dull musical world. A Lincoln Portrait Voice: Gregory Peck
Despite the support of Koussevitzky, Copland's ‘strident’ and ‘nervous’ music met initially with a largely skeptical audience and press. The jazzy Piano Concerto (1926) , written for the composer to play with the Boston Symphonic Orchestra , received a particularly hostile reception. Regardless of these difficulties, Copland avoided a full-time university position, hoping that he and his American colleagues might earn decent livings from composition. Towards this end, he was active in New York’s League of Composers, often writing for its journal, Modern Music, as well as for other magazines and newspapers. He organized the Copland-Sessions Concerts (1928–1931) and Yaddo Festivals (1932–1933), helped to supervise the Cos Cob Press, founded in 1929 for the publication of recent American music, assumed leadership of the American Composers Association (1939–1945) , and co-founded the AMC (1939). These activities not only helped to foster his own career, but also those of older composers such as Carl Ruggles and Charles Ives, contemporaries such as Roger Sessions, Roy Harris, Walter Piston, Virgil Thomson and Carlos Chavez, and younger figures including Israel Citkowitz, Paul Bowles, Vivian Fine, Marc Blitzstein and Henry Brant.
Over the following decades he also became an important mentor to David Diamond, William Schuman, Elliott Carter, Leonard Bernstein, Irving Fine, Lukas Foss, Jacob Druckman, David del Tredici, Barbara Kolb and many others. During the 1930s, the Depression brought about an intensification in his socialist sympathies. In 1932, at Carlos Chavez’ urging, he visited Mexico for the first time , finding the country’s people, as well as its revolutionary government, an inspiration; he returned to Mexico for extended working vacations and hoped to travel to the Soviet Union. In 1934 he gave speeches on behalf of farmers in rural Minnesota, composed the worker’s chorus Into the Street May First, and wrote an article about proletarian music for The New Masses. In the late 1930s and early 1940s Copland’s ballets, patriotic works and lighter efforts, such as El Salon México (1932–1936), brought popular and critical acclaim. Appalachian Spring (1943–1944) won the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Music Critics’ Circle Award. A successful score for the documentary The City (commissioned for the 1939 New York World’s Fair), led to five feature Hollywood film scores, of which four earned nominations for an Academy Award and won one Oscar by The Heiress (1949) .
During this period he travelled extensively in South America on behalf of both the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (1941) and the State Department (1947). As well as reporting on musical conditions, he developed friendships with many Latin American composers, including Ginastera , who, like Britten, Takemitsu and others from around the world, took inspiration from Copland’s nationalism. By the late 1940s Copland was widely regarded as the foremost American composer of his time. Though for many years a Manhattan resident, he felt compelled to leave the city in 1947. After an unsettled period, he purchased a converted barn, Shady Land Farm, in Ossining, New York, where he lived from 1952 to 1961. As early as his participation in the 1949 World Peace Conference, he became the target of anti-communist smear campaigns. These attacks culminated in the cancellation in 1953 of Lincoln Portrait from a presidential inaugural concert, and a subpoena to appear before a closed hearing of a Congressional subcommittee. Throughout these trials he denied being a communist and successfully avoided implicating any friends or associates. This unpleasant episode had virtually no effect on his growing reputation. Salon Mexico
He became the first American composer to serve as Harvard’s Norton Professor of Poetics (1951–1952) and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1954), receiving the Academy's Gold Medal in 1956 and serving as its president in 1971. Other awards included a MacDowell Medal (1961), a Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964), a Kennedy Center Honor (1979), a Medal of the Arts (1986), a Congressional Gold Medal (1986) and numerous honorary doctorates. Moreover, he became a highly decorated figure internationally, receiving memberships or fellowships in academies in England, Italy, Argentina and Chile, along with the Federal German Republic’s Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit (1970). In 1981 the music school at Queens College, CUNY, was named the Aaron Copland School of Music. Throughout the 1950s and beyond, Copland continued to lecture, teach and write as vigorously as ever . Although he had occasionally conducted his own works, after his début with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1958 he embarked on a full-fledged conducting career, following which he conducted internationally for more than 20 years.
While his concerts always featured his own music, he also programmed the work of over 80 other composers. He recorded much of his orchestral literature and some of his piano music. In 1961 Copland moved to a larger home, Rock Hill, near Peekskill, New York, where he lived until his death. He composed very little after 1972 . ‘It was exactly as if someone had simply turned off a faucet’, he said. He felt ‘lucky to have been given so long to be creative. And resigned to the fact that it appears to be over’. In the mid-1970s he began to experience short-term memory lapses, later diagnosed as Alzheimer’s or a similar condition. By the mid-1980s he was under regular medical supervision. On December 2nd, 1990, he died of respiratory failure brought on by pneumonia. The bulk of his large estate was donated for the establishment of the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, a non-profit organization for the support of contemporary music and young composers. In 1995 the Library of Congress opened its vast Copland Collection to the public.
E N D Reference: http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com AVM 060211
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