Aaron Copland

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Copland, Aaron

(kōp`lənd), 1900–1990, American composer, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Copland was a pupil of Rubin Goldmark and of Nadia BoulangerBoulanger, Nadia
, 1887–1979, French conductor and musician, b. Paris. Boulanger was considered an outstanding teacher of composition. She studied at the Paris Conservatory, where in 1945 she became professor.
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, who introduced his work to the United States when she conducted his Symphony for Organ and Orchestra in 1925. Although his earliest works show European influences, the American character of the greater part of his compositions is evident in his use of jazz and of American folk tunes, as in the short piece for chamber orchestra, John Henry (1940). Copland's major orchestral works are El Salon Mexico (1936) and the Third Symphony (1946); his many ballets include the well known Billy the Kid (1938), Rodeo (1942), and Appalachian Spring (1944). He wrote the song cycle 12 Poems of Emily Dickinson, a quartet for piano and strings (both 1950), and Canticle of Freedom for chorus and orchestra (1955), and composed music for the films Of Mice and Men (1939), Our Town (1940), The Red Pony (1948), and The Heiress (1949). Copland also composed in the modernist idiom, as in his 12-tone orchestral piece Connotations (1962) and his serial tone poem Inscape (1967). With Roger SessionsSessions, Roger,
1896–1985, American composer and teacher, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Sessions was a pupil of Horatio Parker at Yale and of Ernest Bloch. He taught (1917–21) at Smith, leaving to teach at the Cleveland Institute of Music as Bloch's assistant.
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 he founded the Copland-Sessions Concerts (1928–31) and in 1932 organized the American Festivals of Contemporary Music at Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He lectured extensively and received many awards, and his writings include What to Listen for in Music (1939, rev. ed. 1957), Copland on Music (1960), and The New Music: 1900–1960 (1968).


See biographies by A. Berger (1953, repr. 1987) and H. Pollack (1999); study by N. Butterworth (1986).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Copland, Aaron


Born Nov. 14, 1900, in Brooklyn, N.Y. American composer.

Copland studied with R. Goldmark in New York from 1917 to 1921 and with N. Boulanger in Paris from 1921 to 1924. Extremely active in the musical life of the country, he organized the Copland-Sessions Concerts, a series of concerts presented from 1928 to 1931, and headed the League of Composers and the American Composers’ Alliance. Copland gave lectures at many American universities. He has performed as a pianist and conductor in European and Latin American countries.

In his major works, Copland strives to reproduce the national features of American life; he also uses Latin American themes. His early works were close to the neoclassical school of I. F. Stravinsky. Copland subsequently turned to jazz rhythms and then to the 12-note system. His compositions include the opera The Tender Land (1954), the ballets Rodeo (1942) and Appalachian Spring (1944), three symphonies (1928, 1933, 1946), concerti, instrumental ensembles, choruses, and music for theater, film, and radio. Copland is the author of literary works on music, including contemporary music (excerpts from the book Music and Imagination were published in Russian in Sovetskaia muzyka, 1968, nos. 3–4).


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Copland, Aaron

(1900–90) composer; born in New York City. In his teens he studied in New York with Rubin Goldmark; in France during 1921–24, he worked with the later-famous pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. Returning to New York, he began the wide-ranging activities that would characterize his career: composing painstakingly, performing as a pianist, promoting new music, and teaching. His first successes came from the performances of such important conductors as Walter Damrosch, who premiered the Symphony for Organ and Orchestra in 1925, and Serge Koussevitsky, who became a leading champion of the composer. Meanwhile, he helped create and performed in forums for new works including the Yaddo Festival (which began in 1932). He also helped found organizations including the American Composers Alliance and Cos Cob Press, taught at schools including Tanglewood (1940–65), and wrote a series of books beginning with the 1939 What to Listen for in Music. After his early jazz-inspired works such as Music for the Theater (1925), and a few severe, avant-garde pieces such as the Piano Variations (1930), his most famous works began with the El Salón México of 1936; this and later pieces, among them the much-loved Appalachian Spring of 1944, are marked by a warm and rhythmically lively style based on a sophisticated adaptation of American folk material. He largely retired from composing in the 1970s.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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He studied at Goldsmiths College in London, which provided a passport to the prestigious Tanglewood Summer School in Boston where he studied under the composer Aaron Copeland. From there it was but a short step to the thriving loft culture of New York in the mid-60s, a network of composers and crazies which also nurtured the talents of Yoko Ono.
Aaron Copeland once wrote about the dream ticket of native-born American doctors conducting American music; on last night's evidence that ideal is still some way off.