Presentation on theme: "Aaron Copland An American Original Perhaps more than any other composer, Aaron Copland established American concert music through his compositions, promotions,"— Presentation transcript:
Aaron Copland An American Original
Perhaps more than any other composer, Aaron Copland established American concert music through his compositions, promotions, and just plain hard work. To many, his name is synonymous with American Music. It was his pioneering achievement to break free of Europe and create a style that is characteristically American.
“I was born on November 14, 1900, on a street in Brooklyn, New York City that could only be described as drab.” - Copland autobiography
By the time he was 15, he had decided to become a composer. Little Aaron At a young age, Aaron learned to play piano from an older sister.
Continuing Study At the age of 21, Copland traveled to Paris to study with the brilliant teacher Nadia Boulanger, and was her first American student. She encouraged Aaron to explore a serious style that sounded American, often pointing out the odd rhythms he would use - the rhythms of Jazz and American popular music. Nadia Boulanger Aaron riding through the French countryside
A New Popular Style Copland said he thought many composers were endangered of “working in a vacuum” - that no one would be able to understand their works. An entirely new generation had grown up around the radio and the phonograph, and it didn’t make sense to ignore them and continue writing as if they didn’t exist.
He embraced a populist idea, and strove for a greater simplicity without sacrificing artistic values and falling into purely commercial music. What’s this all mean? Basically, Copland tried to keep the music as simple as possible, but still creative and new.
Reaching the People While his early work was influenced greatly by Stravinsky, Aaron began to think about getting “serious” music to be more appealing to the general public. He began to write for Theatre, Ballet, and Films.
Reaching the People His new simplified style often used American and Mexican folk melodies. Here is Copland listening to a Mexican mariachi band. Copland visited Mexico many times throughout the 30’s and 40’s. He also loved cowboy songs.
Aaron’s new style was very popular, and it brought him fame. His pieces became well known, and he became one of the leading American Composers. Copland was one of the few composers who were liked by both professional musicians and the general public.
His ballet “Appalachian Spring” uses the folk melody “Simple Gifts” – a popular song by the Shaker people that settled in the Appalachian Mountains.
Copland won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1944 for Appalachian Spring.
A Teacher Copland wanted to not just create a new American sound in his own music, but to encourage others as well. He started the composition department at Tanglewood Music Center in Boston, wrote and lectured on modern music, and even produced a music appreciation book for the general reader.
He was also good at spotting new talented composers. He helped launch the careers of William Schumann, David Diamond, Peter Mennin, and Leonard Bernstein, among others. Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland
In the 1950’s, Copland began to become interested in a new composition technique called serialism. This abstract style was not as popular with the public as his earlier music. Serialism is a type of music that includes 12-tone music. It is often very dissonant and is not very memorable. This is one of his serial compositions – it’s called Emblems. It doesn’t sound much like his other music does it?
He turned his attention to conducting, and specialized in his own pieces. In large part to make money, since his new style pieces weren’t selling as well. He was very successful, and enjoyed a lucrative career.
Aaron virtually gave up composing by 1970, but continued to conduct and speak to young musicians well into the 1980’s. When asked about giving up composing, he said, “I’m amazed that I don’t miss composing more than I do. You’d think if you had spent 50 years at it, you’d have the feeling that something was missing and I really don’t. I must have expressed myself sufficiently. I certainly don’t feel tortured or bitter, only lucky to have been given so long to be creative. And resigned to the fact that it seems to be over.”
With Alzheimers setting in, Copland spent the last years of his life out of the public spotlight. He passed away on December 2, 1990, at his home in Peekskill, New York.
Copland’s genius was able to sum up in sound the vast space of the American landscape, and the energy of the American people.
For Nearly Four Decades, he was regarded as the foremost American composer.
He is still one of the most important and influential composers that America has ever produced.
According to his wishes, his house was turned into a center for young composers.
Listening: 1.Fanfare for the Common Man (Click to start) 2. Hoe-Down from Rodeo (Click to start)