Aaron Copland


Composer

About

Birth Place
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Born
November 14, 1900
Died
December 02, 1990
Cause of Death
Respiratory Failure Brought On By Pneumonia And Two Strokes

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)....

Family & Companions

Erik Johns
Companion
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.

Bibliography

"Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man"
Howard Pollack, Henry Holt & Co (1999)
"Aaron Copland: 1900 through 1942"
Aaron Copland with Vivian Perlis, St. Martin's Press (1984)
"Music and Imagination"
Aaron Copland (1952)
"Our New Music"
Aaron Copland (1941)

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)

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).

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Shout (1991)
Performer

Music (Feature Film)

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Impassioned Eye (2006)
Music
Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Song
Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Music Conductor
He Got Game (1998)
Music Conductor
He Got Game (1998)
Music
The Sunchaser (1996)
Song
Shout (1991)
Music
Miles From Home (1988)
Music
Love and Money (1982)
Music
Love and Money (1982)
Music Conductor
Conversations With Willard Van Dyke (1981)
Music
Riding High (1980)
Song
Something Wild (1961)
Music comp & Conductor
Three Installations (1952)
Music
The Heiress (1949)
Music
The Red Pony (1949)
Music
Idlers That Work (1949)
Music
Fiesta (1947)
Composer
The North Star (1943)
Composer
Our Town (1940)
Music
The City (1939)
Music
Of Mice and Men (1939)
Music Score

Cast (Special)

Aaron Copland: A Self-Portrait (1985)
Copland Conducts Copland (1976)
Amazing Grace: America in Song (1976)

Music (Special)

Copland's America (2001)
Music
Blast! (2000)
Music ("Appalachian Spring" "Simple Gifts")
Talk to Me: Americans in Coversation (1997)
Music
Thomas Hampson: I Hear America Singing (1997)
Music
Atlanta Symphony Golden Anniversary (1995)
Music
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1993)
Music
Songs of Freedom (1992)
Music
Richard Tucker Gala: A Salute to American Music (1992)
Song
Disney's Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra (1992)
Music
The 1991 Miss America Pageant (1991)
Music
Live From the Philadelphia Orchestra: A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. (1991)
Music
The Concert For Peace From Oslo (1991)
Music
Opening Night -- Masur and the Philharmonic (1991)
Music
Carnegie Hall at 100: A Place of Dreams (1991)
Music
National Memorial Day Concert (1990)
Music
A Capitol Fourth 1989 (1989)
Music
Piano and Partners (1989)
Music
No One Dies Alone (1988)
Music
A Boston Pops Fourth With John Williams and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra (1987)
Music
A Capitol Fourth -- 1986 (1986)
Music
American Ballet Theatre (1976)
Music ("Billy The Kid")
Copland Conducts Copland (1976)
Music
Music From America: Rhapsody in Blue (1976)
Music
Martha Graham Dance Company (1976)
Music ("Appalachian Spring")
Copland Conducts Copland (1976)
Music Conductor

Music (TV Mini-Series)

The Chisholms (1979)
Music

Life Events

1921

Studied music in France

1925

Premiere of his Organ Symphony

1932

Directed the First Festival of Contemporary Music at Yaddo, the artists' colony in Saratoga Springs, NY

1939

First feature film score, "Of Mice and Men"

1939

Wrote first film score for the Ralph Steiner/Willard van Dyke medium-length documentary, "The City"

1941

Toured South America (toured again in 1947)

1951

First American composer to deliver the Norton lectures at Harvard

1967

Stopped composing

Videos

Movie Clip

Of Mice And Men (1939) - A Place Like That... Disabled Candy (Roman Bohnen) wonders if he can join new farm-hand pals George (Burgess Meredith) and Lenny (Lon Chaney Jr.) in their fantasy of buying their own place, in director Lewis Milestone's Of Mice And Men, 1939, from the Steinbeck novel.
Of Mice And Men (1939) - Opening, Lenny And George California migrant farm workers Lenny (Lon Chaney Jr.) and George (Burgess Meredith) are fleeing angry citizens of "Weed" in the opening of Lewis Milestone's Of Mice And Men, 1939, from the John Steinbeck novel.
Of Mice And Men (1939) - Down By The River Ranch-hand George (Burgess Meredith) is making sure slow-witted pal Lenny (Lon Chaney Jr.) doesn't get in trouble with vampy Mae (Betty Field) or her husband Curley (Bob Steele) in Of Mice And Men, 1939, from John Steinbeck's novel.
Heiress, The (1949) - Opening, A Hundred Years Ago Big names like Henry James, Aaron Copland and William Wyler in the credits leading to an opening scene introducing Dr. Sloper (Ralph Richardson) and sister "Aunt Penniman" (Miriam Hopkins) from The Heiress, 1949, starring Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift.
Something Wild (1961) -- Long Way Down Accompanied only by Aaron Copland's score, rape victim Mary Ann (Carroll Baker) has wandered to the Manhattan Bridge, where she meets mechanic Mike (Ralph Meeker), in director Jack Garfein's Something Wild, 1961.
Red Pony, The - Mights Ain't Gettin' Follow the Aaron Copland score, again, as Tom (Peter Myles) enters a medieval fantasy (featuring ranch-hand pal Robert Mitchum) before the kids catch up en route to school in Lewis Milestone's The Red Pony, 1949.
Red Pony, The - Good Rancher Mom Alice (Myrna Loy) commands breakfast for Tom (Peter Miles), spouse Fred (Shepperd Strudwick) and ranch-hand Billy (Robert Mitchum), with Aaron Copland score and John Steinbeck dialogue, in The Red Pony, 1949.
Red Pony, The - Gabilan Ranch hand Billy (Robert Mitchum) and Dad (Shepperd Strudwick) present young Tom (Peter Miles) with the pony he'll name "Gabilan," in Lewis Milestone's The Red Pony, from John Steinbeck's novel and screenplay.
Red Pony, The - Five Pound of Buffalo Grandpa (Louis Calhern) holds forth on his favorite subject over dinner while Billy (Robert Mitchum), Dad (Shepperd Strudwick), Mom (Myrna Loy), Tom (Peter Miles) and Aaron Copland's score react in The Red Pony, 1949.

Trailer

Family

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

Companions

Erik Johns
Companion
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.

Bibliography

"Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man"
Howard Pollack, Henry Holt & Co (1999)
"Aaron Copland: 1900 through 1942"
Aaron Copland with Vivian Perlis, St. Martin's Press (1984)
"Music and Imagination"
Aaron Copland (1952)
"Our New Music"
Aaron Copland (1941)
"What to Listen For in Music"
Aaron Copland (1939)
"Copland on Music"
Aaron Copland
"Aaron Copland: His Work and Contribution to American Music"
Julia Smith

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).