Aaron Copeland Essay, Research Paper
Born in Brooklyn on November 14, 1900, Aaron Copland was the youngest of five children. American music had no internationally recognized voice of its own when Copland was growing up. His destiny was to supply one. He was the son of Jewish immigrants. Early music training came from an older sister Laurine. He soon turned to other teachers, and began attending symphonic concerts, soaking up the music of the standard symphonic repertoire. While in high school, he studied harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration with Rubin Goldmark, who tried to steer his tastes down a conservative path. Later he went abroad to complete his musical education at a new conservatory for American musicians established at Fontainebleau, near Paris. In his travels through Europe, he was exposed to a wide variety of new styles. Aaron Copland said that it was his good fortune that he was “twenty in the twenties.” When he returned to New York it was in the midst of an artistic and social revival, and he immediately became a part of that renewal. His early music mixes very modern musical ideas with hints of jazz influence. In the fall of 1921, he sold his first piano piece, “Scherzo Humoristique” (The Cat and the Mouse), to the publisher Durand. The music he wrote came to be regarded as the most representative echo of the American spirit. On January 11, 1924 his Symphony for Organ and Orchestra was performed by the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, with Nadia Boulanger as soloist and Walter Damrosch as conductor. It was later performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Serge Koussevitzky, who had originally suggested the composition. He wrote Symphonic Ode, for the fiftieth anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1930. It was later revised for the orchestra’s seventy-fifth anniversary in 1955. Copland joined the League of Composers. He remained a member until 1954. He began serving on its board of directors in 1932. He assisted Alma Morgenthau Wertheim in establishing the Cos Cob Press, which later became Arrow Music Press. With Roger Sessions, Copland co-founded the Copland-Sessions Concerts of Contemporary Music New York in 1929. He was awarded $5,000 prize from the RCA Victor Competition for Dance Symphony, which was written in 1925. In mid-career he wrote a string of works of sophistication simplicity that the world recognized and cheered them not only as American, but also as Copland-esque. These included the ballets “Billy the Kid” and “Rodeo” as well as the modern dance piece “Appalachian Spring.” From 1928 to 1931 he coordinated a series of concerts with the composer Roger Sessions that presented important new works to the American public. He lectured at the New School for Social Research and built his reputation as a composer. Because Copland summed up so well so many strands of the experience of being an American, he can be regarded as our national musical voice maybe even more popular than George Gershwin. He was the musical father to more than one generation of young composers.