Aaron Copland

American composer, composition teacher, and writer of music

The Life of Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland was born November 14, 1900, in Brooklyn. Around the age of 11 he was taught how to play the piano by an his older sister, and went to many classical music performances. When he was 20 years old he went to Fontainebleau France where he was tutored by the famous Nadia Boulanger. After studying many European composers, he made his way back to the U.S. about the mid 1920s, to write an organ concerto for Boulanger. He eventually debuted for the Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, with the New York Symphony Society under Walter Damrosch. The next decade would help to spread Coplands fame throughout the world as he began to focus on showing "America as a scope", incorporating jazz, folk, and connections to Latin america in his music. Because he was also an author he published his first book in 1939 entitled What to Listen for in Music, followed by two others in the years following. He also became a renowned composer of film scores and even won an Oscar for The Heiress, in 1949.

Aaron Copland's "Fanfare For The Common Man"


This is a video that in the beginning explains a little about the different cultural arts and musics from the people that helped influence Aaron Copland's music, and shaped it into what it was. You will here a clip form one of Copland's most famous compositions, Fanfare to the Common Man, that helped to make him well known and it one of his best works. It was written in 1942 and was inspired by a speech made earlier by Henry A. Wallace.

Aaron Copland's influence on America

Even just starting off in Brooklyn as a young kid, Aaron Copland knew that he wanted write music that would show people what it was like to be alive on the streets of Brooklyn, and at the time that meant jazz. He thought that to get this American perspective he had to go to Paris, so he did and studied European composers while being tutored by Nadia Boulanger. When he came he was strongly influenced by the culture and experience of his travels, but the great depression was soon to come. He was inspired by the Avant Garde in New York, which inspired him to write one of his famous pieces, Piano Variations, which focused on more simple, powerful, and fewer notes. He endured through the depression by teaching and giving lectures at the New School for Social Research, the basis for his book, What to Listen for in Music, which helped to get him known. When the Library of Congress released recordings of American folk music, Copland was captivated and wanted to incorporate that simplicity and power into his music, but it turned out what he was looking for was actually in the music of Mexico. After he visited Mexico he was inspired to write one of his most famous pieces, El Salon Mexico. He then turned his attention to the American scene where he began to write songs that represented the west and the "Frontier of America". Then a colleague of his , Martha Graham, asked him to write the score for a new ballet, and he sprung on the idea creating a beautiful piece call Appalachian Spring that really touched the people who saw the ballet, and some even said to him that they could picture the mountains and feel the spring.

Comparison to John Williams

I think that Aaron Copland and John Williams have a lot in common from their work in movie scores, and choice in job and career paths. Both were and are composers, musicians, and composers. For example, some of Copland's famous pieces were Piano Variations and The Dance Symphony in 1930, El Salon Mexico in 1935, A Lincoln Portrait in 1941, and Fanfare for the Common Man in 1942. He also won a Pulitzer prize for Martha Grahams dace, Appalachian Spring in 1945. John Williams has written many film scores over the years but some of the most famous are Jaws and Jaws 2 in 1975 and 1978, Star Wars, all of the episodes, in 1977, 1980, 1983, 1999, 2002, 2005, and 2015. He also composed Super Man and Super Man 5: The Quest for Peace in 1987 and 1978, all three Indiana Jones movies in 1984, 1989, and 2008, as well as 3 Harry Potter movies in 2001, 2002, 2004.