Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland

Biography

In the first half of the twentieth century, Aaron Copland was at the forefront of American music. He was a skillful and determined composer who incorporated jazz, European post-Romanticism, and even serialism into his works. But it was his distinctively American pieces that have made him famous -- they're vigorous, energetic, highly rhythmic and extremely accessible, and Copland's original audiences loved them. Listeners still do: Fanfare for the Common Man and the ballets Billy the Kid, Rodeo and Appalachian Spring are burned into the American psyche. But the appeal he has as a popular artist does not make for work of poor quality. Even the most ostensibly jingoistic or simplistic of his pieces is multilayered, incredibly dense and harmonically sophisticated, revealing a formidable mind at work. For instance, the composer's best-known ballet Appalachian Spring is a powerful and emotional document of the pioneer spirit that subtly moves from austere phrases to full, lush textures. The piece flirts with dissonance, quotes from traditional folk tunes and utilizes effective and propulsive changes in meter. Copland was shrewd enough to craft art that still touches people, and talented enough to ensure it lasted beyond his lifetime.

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