Aaron Copland : American Composer

By the age of sixteen he was studying composition and often attended musical symphonies where e was quickly drawn to the historical icons of classical music and left the united States to attend the Summer School of Music for American Students in France when he was only twenty years old. It was here in France that he sold his first composition and was introduced to several prominent composers Of the time. One composer in particular, Serge Severity’s asked Copeland to write a piece for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and in turn launched his professional career in American music.

Copeland believed that coupled with the influences and ideas of jazz he could create and develop a symphonic mound that was distinctly American. In the late 1 9205 Soprano’s attention turned to popular music of other countries. By the late sass’s Copeland had become one of the most popular composers in the country, as well as a leader of the community of American classical musicians. He had moved away from his Interest in jazz and began to concern himself with expanding the audience for American classical music.

He worked toward this goal by being an active member of many organizations, including both the American Composers’ Alliance and the League of Composers. He also began the Copeland-Sessions concerts, dedicated to presenting the works of young composers. He also introduced the Yawed Festival of American Music. Furthermore, “El Sal¶n M©OIC” was the piece that helped Copeland begin his most productive and popular years. The piece presented a new sound that had its roots in Mexican folk music.

In an attempt to reach even greater audiences, Copeland began composing for the movies and ballet. Among his most popular compositions for film are those for “Of Mice and Men”, “Our Town”, and “The Heiress”, for which he won an Academy Award for best score. He composed scores for a number of ballets, including “Agnes Demise’s Rodeo” and “Appalachian Spring’ for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. These two works were highly representative of the American folk traditions that Copeland was so greatly trying to protect as well as promote.

Many consider his most important and successful composition from this time to be “A Lincoln Portrait” a piece for voice and orchestra that uses quotes from Lincoln writings narrated over Soprano’s original composition. Throughout the sass, Copeland worked less and less as a composer and began to focus n conducting. He toured with his own work as well as the works of other great American musicians. Over the next twenty years he traveled the world, conducting live performances and creating a collection of recorded work.

By the early 1 sass, Copeland had, with few exceptions, completely stopped writing original music. Most of his time was spent conducting and reworking older compositions. In 1983 Copeland conducted his last symphony. His generous work as a teacher at Tangoed, Harvard, and the New School for Social Research gained him a following of devoted musicians. As a scholar, he rote more than sixty articles and essays on music, as well as five books. He traveled the world in an attempt to elevate the status of American music abroad, and to increase its popularity at home.

On December 2, 1 990, Aaron Copeland died in North Tarrytown, New York. In keeping with his lifelong devotion to contemporary music, Aaron Copeland allocated resources to a Fund and bequeathed to it a large part of his estate. The Fund was officially announced to the public in 1992. The Fund’s purpose is to encourage and improve public knowledge and appreciation of contemporary American music. The fund operates three grant programs and also grants permission for the use of Soprano’s music.

The first, a recording fund, maintains three separate grant programs in support Of contemporary American music, each with its own objectives and annual application deadline. Second, the Performing Ensemble program’s objectives are to document and provide wider exposure for the music of contemporary American composers, to develop audiences for contemporary American music through record distribution and other retail markets, and to support the release and dissemination of recordings of previously unreleased contemporary American music and the resistance of recordings that are no longer available.

Finally, the supplemental program’s objective is to support non-profit organizations that have a history of substantial commitment to contemporary American music but whose needs are not addressed by the Fund’s programs of support for performing organizations and recording projects. Organizations eligible for the supplemental program include service organizations and presenters. Organizations whose principal function is to support a specific performing ensemble should apply to the Performing Ensembles Program. Aaron Copeland was a pioneer in twentieth century classical music.

He taught generations to draw influence from what was around, whether that happened to be Gershwin, Debussy, jazz, folk-tunes or hoedowns. He created a whole new classical sound that was uniquely American while inspiring others. Soprano’s music has been a part of American culture through out the twentieth century. His compositions were popular not only in the world of theatre and cinema but also became recognizable in advertising. Although many Americans may not know Aaron Copeland by name, play them a familiar tune and they immediately recognize t as the “Beef, ifs what’s for dinner” television commercial from the sass.

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