Copland

Copland

[kohp-luhnd]
Copland, Aaron, 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).

Aaron Copland.

(born Nov. 14, 1900, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.—died Dec. 2, 1990, North Tarrytown, N.Y.) U.S. composer. Born to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, he studied composition in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. In his early works he experimented with jazz rhythms and then with an abstract style influenced by Neoclassicism. After the mid-1930s he was concerned with making music accessible to a wider audience and adopted notably American traits in his compositions. Famously public-spirited and generous, he came to be unofficially regarded as the U.S.'s national composer. He is best known for his three ballets based on American folk material: Billy the Kid (1938), Rodeo (1942), and Appalachian Spring (1944, Pulitzer Prize). He also wrote film scores, orchestral works, and operas. In his later years Copland refined his treatment of Americana, making his references less overt, and he produced a number of works using the experimental technique of serialism. He continued to lecture and to conduct through the mid-1980s.

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Aaron Copland.

(born Nov. 14, 1900, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.—died Dec. 2, 1990, North Tarrytown, N.Y.) U.S. composer. Born to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, he studied composition in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. In his early works he experimented with jazz rhythms and then with an abstract style influenced by Neoclassicism. After the mid-1930s he was concerned with making music accessible to a wider audience and adopted notably American traits in his compositions. Famously public-spirited and generous, he came to be unofficially regarded as the U.S.'s national composer. He is best known for his three ballets based on American folk material: Billy the Kid (1938), Rodeo (1942), and Appalachian Spring (1944, Pulitzer Prize). He also wrote film scores, orchestral works, and operas. In his later years Copland refined his treatment of Americana, making his references less overt, and he produced a number of works using the experimental technique of serialism. He continued to lecture and to conduct through the mid-1980s.

Learn more about Copland, Aaron with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Symphony No. 3 was Aaron Copland's third and final symphony.

It was written at the end of World War II. It is known as the essential American symphony that fuses his distinct "Americana" style of the ballets (Rodeo, etc.) with the form of the symphony, which has generally been a European-dominated musical form. The work can be seen as a pastiche of Copland's various compositional styles: the simple, pastoral lyricism of "Appalachian Spring", the boldness and liveliness of "Rodeo" and "Billy the Kid", the Latin American vigor of "El Salon Mexico". (Because of this, however, the work has been criticized as somewhat incoherent.) The Fanfare for the Common Man is used as a theme in the fourth movement. Various fragments from Fanfare are also used for primary thematic material in the first three movements.

The first movement (Molto moderato) opens with a simple theme on the woodwinds, which is echoed warmly throughout the orchestra before quickly heightening into a brassy fanfare (in which we get our first hints of the Fanfare for the Common Man theme.) The movement ends as peacefully as it started, but we are quickly snapped out of the reverie with the thunderous timpani thump that launches the lively scherzo into action. The whirling second movement (Allegro molto) features a dashing, boisterous theme, settling into gentler, pastoral segment but ending exuberently. The third movement (Andantino quasi allegretto) opens slowly and contemplatively, featuring Copland's typically sparse and almost ambiguous harmonies. It digresses into a frisky dance-like passage, vaguely Latin American in tone, before transitioning uninterrupted into the finale (Molto deliberator - Allegro risoluto), where we hear a variation on the Fanfare for the Common Man in its full glory. The duration of this movement is spent primarily with the development and recapitulation of the Fanfare melody: Copland gives it a dazzling contrapuntal treatment while at the same time managing to introduce an entirely new theme. The symphony closes majestically with a final reprise of both the Fanfare and the symphony's opening motif.

The overall tone of the work is one of heroism and dignity, and it leaves an appropriately stirring impression.

Note that the Fanfare in the Fourth Movement is not a direct copy of the stand-alone work Fanfare for the Common Man. There are numerous subtle changes, including a new introduction (a woodwind duet begins the Fourth Movement,) two key changes, and different percussion parts.

Discography

Copland recorded this work himself with the London Symphony Orchestra for CBS (now Sony Classical).

Neeme Järvi and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on Chandos play this symphony together with another No. 3 commissioned by Koussevitzky, the Roy Harris Symphony No. 3.

Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic have recorded what may be the best-known performance of the work, available on Sony Classical, previously on Columbia Masterworks Records. In the 1980s he re-recorded the piece with the same forces for Deutsche Grammophon.

Yoel Levi and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra have also recorded the work for Telarc.

Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra have also recorded the work for Reference Recordings.

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