Aaron Copland

A 1920's Composer

Early Life

Aaron Copland was born in New York on November 14, 1900. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. His older sister was the first of many to teach him to play the piano. When Copland was sixteen he went to Manhattan to study with a respected music instructor, by the name of Rubin Goldmark. At this time in Copland's life he liked to surround himself in contemporary classical music. He found a love for the European music history, and left New York for the Summer School of Music for American Students in Fontainebleau, France. While in France he sold his first composition to Durand and Sons, the best music publisher in France at the time. Copland while in France was asked by Serge Koussevitsky to write a piece for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and he titled it "Symphony for Organ and Orchestra" (1925). This piece was his introduction to Professional American Music.
Fontainebleau, France

Click this button! It will take you to where Aaron Copland first studied European Music in the early 1900's (Fontainebleau, France).

Copland ~ Symphony for Organ & Orchestra (1/3) - Andante

Professional Career

In 1925 Copland also wrote a piece called "Music for the Theater" , and in 1926 he wrote a piece called "Piano Concerto". These pieces were very jazz influenced, as jazz was a popular style at the time. Copland's opinion of jazz was that it was the first truly American music movement, but Copland hoped to compose pieces that were easily distinguishable from any other type of music. Copland soon dropped his interest in jazz and moved it to American classical music. Copland was a very active member of the American Composers' Alliance and the League of Composers which were two of the many organizations that he belonged to. Copland's friend Roger Sessions was apart of the organizations too, and they both decided to start performing concerts called the "Copland-Sessions Concerts". These concerts were created to showcase the work of young composers. While this was happening Copland was making plans for an American music festival that took place in 1932, and was to be named the Yaddo Festival of American Music. By the end of the 30's Copland had become one of the most well known composers in the country and the leader of the community of American Classical Musicians.
Yaddo Festival of American Music

Click here! This button will take you to Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY. This is where the Yaddo Festival of American Music was held.

Aaron Copland - Music for the Theatre
Aaron Copland - Piano Concerto Part 1

Other Pieces by Copland Throughout the Years

One of his first pieces "The Cat and the Mouse" was composed in 1920, and is one of his more famous pieces. In 1935 Copland composed a piece entitled "El Salon Mexico" that many people said started his most productive and popular years. After Copland became popular he started composing for movies. His compositions for movies include, a composition for "Of Mice and Men" in 1939, "Our Town" in 1940, and "The Heiress" in 1949. The composition for "The Heiress" won him an Academy Award for best score. He also composed for two ballets "Agnes DeMille's Rodeo" in 1942 and Martha Graham's "Appalachian Spring" in 1944. For the composition "Appalachian Spring" Copland was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. His most successful composition at this time was "A Lincoln Portrait" in 1942.
AARON COPLAND plays The Cat & The Mouse
El Salon Mexico - Aaron Copland
Copland Lincoln Portrait Leonard Slatkin

Aaron Copland and Philip Glass

Aaron Copland and Philip Glass are two very different composers, but they also have some similarities. Aaron Copland mixed his classical style with jazz and Mexican folk music as that was the music of the time, and Philip Glass mixed his classical style with the classical style from the 1800's. Glass's music is inspired by Beethoven and Bach. They both were also interested in the music of other countries, and decided to study in France for a while, and the music in France influenced how each composer has composed each piece they have written.
Philip Glass - Koyaanisqatsi


"Aaron Copland - Music for the Theatre." YouTube. YouTube, 25 Oct. 2011. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

"Aaron Copland - Piano Concerto Part 1." YouTube. YouTube, 26 June 2009. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

"The Aaron Copland Fund for Music." Aaron Copland. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

"AARON COPLAND Plays The Cat & The Mouse." YouTube. YouTube, 27 Oct. 2008. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

"Aaron Copland: The Cat and the Mouse (1920)." YouTube. YouTube, 16 Mar. 2013. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

"Copland Lincoln Portrait Leonard Slatkin." YouTube. YouTube, 22 Dec. 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

"El Salon Mexico - Aaron Copland." YouTube. YouTube, 11 Jan. 2009. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

"Philip Glass." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

"Philip Glass - Koyaanisqatsi." YouTube. YouTube, 01 Sept. 2007. Web. 13 Mar. 2014