|Copland: Appalachian Spring
|Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
|Copland: The Cat and the Mouse
|Copland: Billy the Kid
|Copland: Symphony No. 3
|Copland: Lincoln Portrait
|Copland: El Salón México
|Copland: Clarinet Concerto
|Copland: The Tender Land
|Copland: Piano Variations
|Copland: Four Piano Blues
|Copland: Piano Sonata
|Copland: Statements for orchestra
|Copland: Three Moods
Aaron Copland (November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990) was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later in his career a conductor of his own and other American music. Instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, in his later years he was often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers" and is best known to the public for the works he wrote in the 1930s and 1940s in a deliberately accessible style often referred to as "populist" and which the composer labeled his "vernacular" style. Works in this vein include the ballets Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid and Rodeo, his Fanfare for the Common Man and Third Symphony. The open, slowly changing harmonies of many of his works are archetypical of what many people consider to be the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit. In addition to his ballets and orchestral works, he produced music in many other genres including chamber music, vocal works, opera and film scores.
After some initial studies with composer Rubin Goldmark, Copland traveled to Paris, where he studied at first with Isidor Philipp and Paul Vidal, then with noted pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. He studied three years with Boulanger, whose eclectic approach to music inspired his own broad taste in that area. Determined upon his return to the U.S. to make his way as a full-time composer, Copland gave lecture-recitals, wrote works on commission and did some teaching and writing. He found composing orchestral music in the "modernist" style he had adapted abroad a financially contradictory approach, particularly in light of the Great Depression. He shifted in the mid-1930s to a more accessible musical style which mirrored the German idea of Gebrauchsmusik ("music for use"), music that could serve utilitarian and artistic purposes. During the Depression years, he traveled extensively to Europe, Africa, and Mexico, formed an important friendship with Mexican composer Carlos Chávez and began composing his signature works.
During the late 1940s, Copland felt a need to compose works of greater emotional substance than his utilitarian scores of the late 1930s and early 1940s. He was aware that Stravinsky, as well as many fellow composers, had begun to study Arnold Schoenberg's use of twelve-tone (serial) techniques. In his personal style, Copland began to make use of twelve-tone rows in several compositions. He incorporated serial techniques in some of his later works[clarification needed], including his Piano Quartet (1951), Piano Fantasy (1957), Connotations for orchestra (1961) and Inscape for orchestra (1967). From the 1960s onward, Copland's activities turned more from composing to conducting. He became a frequent guest conductor of orchestras in the U.S. and the UK and made a series of recordings of his music, primarily for Columbia Records.
Aaron Copland devoted his life as a twentieth-century composer to fostering, developing, creating, and establishing distinctive "American" music. He became known as the "Dean of American Music," a sobriquet with which he was uncomfortable. His name is synonymous with Appalachian Spring —the winner of the 1945 Pulitzer Prize in Music—and Fanfare for the Common Man.
Copland extensively documented the many facets of his life in music, and theAaron Copland Collection at the Library of Congress reflects the entire breadth of his endeavors. Beginning in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, Copland periodically deposited his original music manuscripts at the Library of Congress and subsequently converted them to gifts. In the fall of 1989, he donated all his papers to the Library. The collection numbers approximately four hundred thousand items, dating from 1910 to 1990 with a few nineteenth-century photographs, and includes his music manuscripts, printed music, personal and business correspondence, diaries and writings, photographic materials, awards, honorary degrees, programs, and other biographical materials. It is the primary resource for research on Aaron Copland and a major resource for the study of musical life in twentieth-century America generally, particularly from the 1920s to the 1960s.
The online Aaron Copland Collection comprises approximately one thousand items selected from Copland's music sketches, correspondence, writings, and photographs. The items are represented in about five thousand digitized images, the earliest an 1899 photograph and the latest a 1986 letter. While the original collection contains almost all Copland's music manuscripts and printed scores, the online collection presents the original music sketches that Copland used in composing thirty-one works spanning the years 1924 to 1967 and covering every medium in which he composed: orchestral, ballet, opera, film, chamber, solo piano, and vocal music.
The correspondence in the online collection comprises images of approximately eight hundred letters, postcards, and telegrams from Copland that have been selected from the Aaron Copland Collection and other collections in the Music Division at the Library of Congress. Besides letters to his parents and other family members in the 1920s and 30s, the correspondence includes Copland's letters to his Parisian teacher Nadia Boulanger, the conductor Serge Koussevitzky, and others such as Nicolas Slonimsky, Roger Sessions, Carlos Chávez, Walter Piston, Leonard Bernstein, and Benjamin Britten.
As an advocate and supporter of American music and American composers, Copland frequently wrote articles, presented lectures, and delivered speeches. The online Aaron Copland Collection presents eighty-six of Copland's previously unpublished drafts. These show the creative process through which he wrote about his own music, other composers and their music, and other people who played important roles in his musical life.
Of the twelve thousand photographic materials in the Library's Aaron Copland Collection, 111 items have been chosen for online presentation. Many were created by Copland's friend Victor Kraft, a professional photographer. They include portraits of Aaron Copland at various ages and places, with family members, with other composers, and with other people associated with his career as a composer and conductor, as well as images from his worldwide travels.