Aaron Copland

The Dean of American Composers


Copland was born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 14, 1900. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. Aaron first learned how to play the piano from his older sister, Laurine. He learned the fundamentals of composition from a private instructor, Rubin Goldmark, in Manhattan at the age of sixteen. When he was twenty one he left New York to go to the Summer School of Music for American students in Fountainebleau, France because he liked classical music and musicians of Europe. While in France, Copland found a musical community that was very different from any he had known. During his time in France he sold his first composition to Durand and Sons. They were the most respected music publisher in France. In Europe Copland met many significant artists of that time. One of them was Serge Koussevitsky, a famous composer. Koussevitsky wanted Copland to write a piece of music for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Copland died on December 2, 1990.

Aaron's Compositions

When Aaron returned to America from France in 1924, his career was launched when Serge Koussevitzky, a man he met in Paris, agreed to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Copland's Organ Symphony.

  • Fanfare for the Common Man is Aaron's most famous composition
  • Symphony for Organ and Orchestra was Copland’s entry into the life of professional American musician in 1925

Some of his most famous pieces are ballets. Below are three of Aaron's most famous ballets.

  • Billy the Kid - composed in 1938
  • Rodeo - composed in 1942
  • Appalachian Spring - composed in 1944
Copland also composed music for movies. A couple of the music pieces that he composed for movies are listed below.
  • Of Mice and Men - composed in 1937
  • Our Town - composed in 1940

Not Only Composing Music But Writing Books

Aaron did not only compose and conduct he also wrote several books. Some of them are What to Listen for in Music (1939), Music and Imagination (1952), and Copland on Music (1960). He was an exceptional teacher at the Berkshire Music Center. In 1945 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Aaron Copland - Fanfare for the Common Man - Northumberland Brass

Significance of Aaron Copland

Aaron wanted new music to cause a very important cultural force. He accomplished this by composing, lecturing and writing on new music, and by organizing the Copland-Sessions concerts in New York. These concerts brought many workers of European groups of people who developed new ideas in art, literature, etc. to U.S. audiences for the first time. Aaron wanted to make people happy during the Great Depression and World War II and showed happiness through his music.

Aaron Copland vs Harry Connick Jr.

Harry and Aaron were both influenced by their families to pursue music. Harry's parents owned a record store. Aaron's mom loved music and his sister gave him lessons on the piano. They both started performing on the piano at a young age, Harry at age five, Aaron at age nine. Harry was taught by two of the city’s keyboard greats, James Booker and Ellis Marsalis, while Copland studied with Rubin Goldmark, a private music instructor. They both studied music in great depth in Manhattan. Harry composes, sings, acts, and plays the piano while Aaron composed, lectured, and played the piano.
It had to be you - Harry Connick Jr.

Works Cited

"The Aaron Copland Fund for Music." Aaron Copland. 12 Mar. 2014 <http://www.coplandfund.org/copland.html>.

"Aaron Copland." Last.fm. 12 Mar. 2014 <http://www.last.fm/music/Aaron%2BCopland>.

"Aaron Copland." PBS. PBS. 12 Mar. 2014 <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/aaron-copland/about-the-composer/475/>.

"Biography." IMDb. IMDb.com. 12 Mar. 2014 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001065/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm>.

"Classics for Kids - Aaron Copland." Classics for Kids. 12 Mar. 2014 <http://www.classicsforkids.com/composers/bio.asp?id=14>.

"Copland House." Aaron Copland / Timeline // …where America's musical past and future meet. 12 Mar. 2014 <http://www.coplandhouse.org/aaron-copland/timeline/>.

"Every Man Should Know." Harry Connick Jr. 12 Mar. 2014 <http://www.harryconnickjr.com/>

"SPECTRUM Biographies - Aaron Copland." SPECTRUM Biographies - Aaron Copland. 12 Mar. 2014 <http://www.incwell.com/Biographies/Copland.html>.