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Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland

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Also Known As: Died: December 2, 1990
Born: November 14, 1900 Cause of Death: respiratory failure brought on by pneumonia and two strokes
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: composer, conductor, pianist, author, lecturer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Distinguished 20th-century composer who brought a melodic, richly textured sophistication to his occasional film scoring. Like the Soviet composer Prokofiev, his work had a distinctly national flavor, perhaps best exemplified in the folksy but still intensely dramatic music he created for "Of Mice and Men" (1939), "Our Town" (1944) and "The Red Pony" (1948).

Distinguished 20th-century composer who brought a melodic, richly textured sophistication to his occasional film scoring. Like the Soviet composer Prokofiev, his work had a distinctly national flavor, perhaps best exemplified in the folksy but still intensely dramatic music he created for "Of Mice and Men" (1939), "Our Town" (1944) and "The Red Pony" (1948).

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Shout (1991)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Composed first song for his mother at age 8
1921:
Studied music in France
1925:
Premiere of his Organ Symphony
:
Returned to US; received Guggenheim Fellowship
:
With Roger Sessions, organized Copland-Sessions concerts
1932:
Directed the First Festival of Contemporary Music at Yaddo, the artists' colony in Saratoga Springs, NY
1939:
Wrote first film score for the Ralph Steiner/Willard van Dyke medium-length documentary, "The City"
1939:
First feature film score, "Of Mice and Men"
1941:
Toured South America (toured again in 1947)
1951:
First American composer to deliver the Norton lectures at Harvard
1967:
Stopped composing
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Education

Boys High School: Brooklyn , New York - 1918
Fontainebleau School of Music: - 1921

Notes

"Aaron Copland gave American music its identity. While previous US composers sounded like their European elders, Copland broke free and created a sound of his own full of rambunctious rhythms, rugged folk-influenced melodies and widely-spaced harmonies that suggested a land of endless expanse and limitless possibilities." --David Patrick Stearns (USA TODAY, December 3, 1990).

"Most of 'Appalachian Spring' and a good part of my Violin Sonata were composed at night at the Samuel Goldwyn studios in Hollywood. An air of mystery hovers over a film studio after dark. Its silent and empty streets give off something of the atmosphere of a walled medieval town. This seclusion provided the required calm for evoking the peaceful, open countryside of rural Pennsylvania depicted in 'Appalachian Spring.' --Aaron Copland (quoted in NEW YORK TIMES obituary December 3, 1990)

Served as President of the American Composers Alliance in 1937-45.

He was awarded the Guggenheim Foundation's first music fellowship.

He has won the New York Music Critics Circle Award for "Appalachian Spring" (1945)

Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

He was awarded the Henry Howland Memorial Prize by Yale University in 1970.

Awarded the Gold Baton from the American Symphony Orchestra Leage (1978).

Received the Kennedy Center Award for "a lifetime of significant contribution to American culture in the performing arts" (1979).

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Erik Johns. Dancer, painter, poet. Met in 1946; lived together for several years until 1954; wrote libretto fort Copland's sole full-length opera "The Tender Land" (1954); died on December 11, 2001 at age 74.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Harris Copland. Came to USA c. 1870s from village in Polish/Lithuanian part of Russia.
mother:
Sarah Copland. Came to USA with husband; Aaron was youngest of their five children.

Bibliography close complete biography

"What to Listen For in Music"
"Our New Music"
"Music and Imagination"
"Copland on Music"
"Aaron Copland: 1900 through 1942" St. Martin's Press
"Aaron Copland: His Work and Contribution to American Music"
"Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man" Henry Holt & Co
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