Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland (1900 – 1990) is regarded as a pioneering figure in American music. Born in New York on 14 November 1900, he grew up in Brooklyn. His father had no musical interest at all, but his mother played the piano and arranged for music lessons for Aaron. In 1915, after attending a concert by composer-pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Copland decided to become a composer. In 1920, he went to Paris, where he studied with Nadia Boulanger for four years.

After returning to New York, Copland devoted himself to teaching and composition. His most famous works include the ballets “Billy the Kid” (1938), “Rodeo” (1942) and “Appalachian Spring” (1944), which are based on themes from American culture and history. With them, he established a characteristically American vernacular style, employing simple harmonies, folk melodies, and lucid orchestration. His later works include the opera „The Tender Land” (1954), Piano Fantasy (1957) and “Connotations for Orchestra” (1962).

In 1944, Aaron Copland began working on a piece commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It took him almost two years to finish this grand work. This is Copland’s third and most famous symphony. It fuses his distinctly American style with the European symphonic tradition. The work becomes the best known, most performed, and most recorded American symphony of the twentieth century. In the 1970s Copland virtually stopped composing, although he continued to lecture and conduct through the mid-1980s. He died on 2 December 1990.

 

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