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Copland, Aaron

Copland, Aaron

Born in 1900


Inducted in 1998

After learning the piano from his older sister, the young Aaron Copland proceeded to study with some distinguished teachers; by the time he reached the age of 16, however, he was convinced his true calling was composition, and he began studying harmony, counterpoint and sonata form with the respected composer and pedagogue Rubin Goldmark. In 1921, while attending the newly established summer school at Fontainebleau, Copland met Nadia Boulanger, with whom he began what was to be a three year course of private study in Paris. While based in Paris, Copland widely in Europe, acquainting himself with the music of Weill, Webern, Bartok and Hindemith, and Boulanger saw that he met numerous luminaries in the French capital itself. One of these was Serge Koussevitzky, whom Copland met in 1924, a few months before the great conductor began his legendary tenure with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. At Tanglewood, in Boston and New York, Copland worked energetically to create opportunities for performance of his colleagues’ music, and to promote a broader acceptance of new music. He joined the League of Composers in 1924 and wrote for its journal Modern Music. He taught at the New School for Social Research in New York from 1927 to 1937. With Roger Sessions produced the Copland Sessions Concerts in New York in the years 1928-1931. Copland taught composition at Harvard in 1935 and in 1944, filling in for Walter Piston, and returned there in 1951 as the first American composer to be named Norton Professor of Poetics. He was one of the founders of the cooperative Arrow Music Press, and of the American Composers Alliance, and in 1932 he directed the first Festival of Contemporary Music at Yaddo, the artists’ colony at Saratoga Springs; New York. His orchestral suite from Appalachian Spring, which brought him a Pulitzer Prize in 1945, quickly established itself as one of the most widely beloved American works in any form. Among the numerous awards Copland received were the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964), the Henry Howland Memorial Prize from Yale University (1970), the Gold Baton from the American Symphony Orchestra League (1978), and the Kennedy Center Honors (1979). His most enduring tributes, however, are the permanent place his music has claimed in the hearts of listeners everywhere, and the receptiveness he did so much to earn for the music of his compatriots.

Listen to Copland, Aaron

"Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes"

Movement: Hoe Down
Performer: New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein (conductor)
Courtesy Of: Sony Classical

Audio Tour

Courtesy of WGUC 90.9 FM