5 Jul 2015

Aaron Copland - An Uncommon Man

From Composer of the Week, 9:00 am on 5 July 2015
Aaron Copland in 1962

Aaron Copland in 1962 Photo: CBS Television Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons


"The Dean of American Composers" was a tower of strength in American music. But Aaron Copland (1900-1990) was sensitive to the times he lived in, and that quality may have come at the cost of even more popular classics.

After his childhood in New York, Copland studied in Paris, where he learned a rigorous compositional technique as well as the ability to bring the sounds of the jazz club into the concert hall. But he struggled with feelings of irrelevance, which continued until he discovered a passion for left-wing politics.

As Franklin Roosevelt implemented a "New Deal", Copland's popular masterpieces flowed, even through the Second World War. With optimism, nostalgia and a whole new American sound, Copland achieved vast success.

But the subsequent Cold War had a chilling effect on the composer and then "as if someone had simply turned off a faucet", the music stopped.

Music Details:

COPLAND: Symphony No 3, mvt 2 - DG 419 170
COPLAND: Fanfare for the Common Man - CBS MK 42430
COPLAND: The Cat and the Mouse - Decca 425 505
COPLAND: Dance, from Music for the Theatre - Bridge 9145
COPLAND: Organ Symphony - BBC Music BBC MM 98
COPLAND: Piano Variations - Hyperion CDA 67005
COPLAND: El Salon Mexico - Sony MLK 64059
COPLAND: The Open Prairie, from Billy the Kid - CBS MK 42431
TRAD - Bonaparte’s Retreat - Burning Fire (via iTunes)
COPLAND: Hoe-down, from Dance Episodes from Rodeo - CBS MK 42431
COPLAND: Appalachian Spring - Bridge 9145
COPLAND: Symphony No 3 - DG 419 170
COPLAND: Piano Quartet, mvt 3 - ASV CD DCA 1081
COPLAND: Connotations - DG 431 672
COPLAND: In Evening Air - Silva Screen Song CD 906 2


Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes