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Copland, Aaron
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Aaron Copland

(Born; Brooklyn, 14 Nov 1900; Died; North Tarrytown NY, 2 Dec 1990). American composer. He studied with Goldmark in New York and with Boulanger in Paris (1921-4), then returned to New York and took a leading part in composers organizations, taught at the New School for Social Research (1927-37) and composed. At first his Stravinskian inheritance from Boulanger was combined with aspects of jazz (Music for the Theatre, 1925) or with a grand rhetoric (Symphonic Ode, 1929), but then he established an advanced personal style in the Piano Variations (1930) and orchestral Statements (1935). Growing social concerns spurred him towards a popular style in the cowboy ballets Billy the Kid (1940) and Rodeo (1942), but even here his harmony and orchestral spacing are distinctive. Another ballet, Appalachian Spring (1944), brought a synthesis of the folksy and the musically developed, the score being a continuous movement towards a set of variations on a Shaker hymn.

Other works from the'Americana' period include the Lincoln Portrait for speaker and orchestra (1942), the Fanfare for the Common Man (1942), the 12 Poems of Emily Dickinson for voice and piano (1950), two sets of Old American Songs (1950-52) and the opera The Tender Land (1954). But there were also more complex developments, especially among the chamber and instrumental works: the Piano Sonata (1941), Violin Sonata (1943), Piano Quartet (1950) and Piano Fantasy (1957). In the orchestral Connotations (1962) and Inscape (1967) he completed a journey into serialism, though again the sound is individual. Other late works, including the ballet Dance Panels (1963), the String Nonet (1960) and the Duo for flute and piano (1971), continue the cool triadic style. He was conductor, speaker and pianist, a generous and admired teacher, and author of several books, among them Music and Imagination (1952).

Operas The Second Hurricane (1937); The Tender Land (1954)

Ballets Billy the Kid (1940); Rodeo (1942); Appalachian Spring (1944); Dance Panels (1963)

Film scores The City (1939); Of Mice and Men (1939); Our Town (1940); NorthStar (1943); The Cummington Story (1945); The Red Pony (1948); The Heiress (1948); Something Wild (1961)

Orchestral music 3 syms. (1925, 1933, 1946); Music for the Theatre (1925); Pf Conc. (1926); Symphonic Ode (1929); Statements (1935); El salón México (1936); Quiet City (1939); Fanfare for the Common Man (1942); Music for Movies (1942); Lincoln Portrait (1942); Cl Conc. (1948); Connotations (1962); Music for a Great City (1964); Inscape (1967); 3 Latin America Sketches (1972)

Chamber music Vitebsk (1929); Vn Sonata (1943); Pf Qt (1950); Nonet (1960); Duo, fl, pf (1971)Piano musicPf Variations (1930); Pf Sonata (1941); Danzón cubano, 2 pf (1942); Pf Fantasy (1957); Down a Country Lane (1962); Danza de Jalisco, 2 pf (1963); Night Thoughts (1972); Midsummer Nocturne (1977)

Choral music In the Beginning (1947); Canticle of Freedom (1955)

Songs 12 Poems of Emily Dickinson (1950); Old American Songs [arrs.] (1950, 1952)
(c)Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK

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