Aaron Copland Essay, Research Paper
By: Anna McGuffin
Not only was Aaron Copland a great American composer, he was a great composer worldwide. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York in a very drab neighborhood. He was influenced by jazz musicians and French composers. He made many remarkable contributions to the world of music and worked to make music more enjoyable to the everyday listener. His major works are not only world famous, but world-appreciated.
Aaron Copland was born in 1900 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the youngest of all of the children in his family. His parents were Lithuanian and moved to the states in the late 1800?s. Copland?s family owned a department store on Washington Avenue in Brooklyn. His family resided in the three stories above the store. He grew up in a very drab neighborhood that he once described. ?I was born on a street in Brooklyn that can only be described as drab. It had none of the garish color of the ghetto, none of the charm of an old New England thoroughfare, or even the rawness of a pioneer street. It was simply drab. It probably resembled one of the most outer districts of lower middle class London, except that is was peopled largely by Italians, Irish, and Negroes. I mention it because it was there that I spent the first twenty years of my life.?
When Copland was twelve years old, he began to play the piano. He was instructed by his older sister, Laurine. After he had been studying for six months, his sister told him that he had learned more in his short time of study than she had in her eight years. So Copland began to study the piano on his own. After a year and half of teaching himself, he convinced his parents to hire a professional piano teacher. They hired Leopold Wolfsohn. Soon following the beginning of his study with Wolfsohn, Aaron Copland decided to try his hand at composition. He once said this in Music and Imagination:
?My discovery of music was rather like coming upon an unsuspected city?like discovering Paris or Rome if you never before heard of their existence. The excitement of the discovery was enhanced because I came upon a few streets at a time, but before long I began to suspect the full extent of this city.?
At the young age of seventeen, Aaron Copland stopped his classes with Leopold Wolfsohn and began his lessons with Rubin Goldmark. Goldmark was one of the best teachers of composition in Manhatten. From 1917 to 1921, Aaron Copland studied with Goldmark. It was then that he realized that he must move to Paris to be on the cutting edge of music. He attended a music school for Americans at Fontainbluau near Paris. Copland was greatly influenced by Nadia Boulanger. She had a profound affect on his life with her great knowledge of music.
Aaron Copland made many contributions to music. He established the department of composition at Tanglewood, lectured and wrote on a wide range of modern music, and produced a music appreciation book called What to Listen for in Music for the general reader. He also brought great European music to the states. His most popular works include: the ballets of Billy the Kid, ?Rodeo?, and film scores for Our Town and the Red Pony. He produced ?Fanfare for the Common Man? and the full length opera The Tender Land. He also produced the mega-hit, ?Appalachian Spring.?
Aaron Copland was a composer not to be soon forgotten. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he moved to Paris and eventually to greatness. Influenced by jazz musicians and French composers, he made remarkable contributions to the world of music and to its listeners. Aaron Copland died in North Tarrytown, New York, on December 2, 1990.
1. Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia? article on Aaron Copland