Aaron Copland

Copland, Aaron (kōpˈlənd) [key], 1900–1990, American composer, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Copland was a pupil of Rubin Goldmark and of Nadia Boulanger, 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 many ballets include Billy the Kid (1938), Rodeo (1942), and Appalachian Spring (1944). He composed music for the films Of Mice and Men (1939), Our Town (1940), The Red Pony (1948), and The Heiress (1949). His major orchestral works are El Salon Mexico (1936) and the Third Symphony (1946). Copland wrote a song cycle, 12 Poems of Emily Dickinson, and a quartet for piano and strings (both 1950), Canticle of Freedom for chorus and orchestra (1955), and a tone poem Inscape (1967). With Roger Sessions 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. His writings include What to Listen for in Music (1939, rev. ed. 1957), Copland on Music (1960), and The New Music: 1900–1960 (rev. ed. 1968).

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

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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