- Aaron Copland - The Gift To Be Simple [Biography]
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Aaron Copland

"The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking 'is there a meaning to music?' My answer would be, 'Yes.' And 'can you state in so many words what the meaning is?' My answer to that would be, 'No.'"

Aaron Copland was born on 14 November, 1900 in Brooklyn, New York; the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. His birth at the start of the new century proved most auspicious, for he was destined to become the first truly great American composer of classical music of the new century.

Copland began music lessons at the age of 17 with eminent teacher and composer Rubin Goldmark. During the early 1920s, he studied in France under the legendary teacher and conductor Nadia Boulanger. It was for Boulanger's first American appearance that Copland composed his Symphony for Organ and Orchestra

With a thorough background of academic musical training behind him, Copland began composing in quite technically advanced styles, influenced by such European contemporaries as Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg. He then turned to his own land for inspirations: to pioneering life in the Appalachian Mountains and the Wild West, to jazz, and the music of African-Americans. He successfully combined these influential sources with his own highly professional skills to produce music that was beautifully polished but that clearly resonated with an American voice. Copland's music is as vast and magnificent as the land that inspired it.

In addition to his composing skills, Copland was also a brilliant pianist- he recorded his own piano concerto - and a gifted conductor. Later in life he toured extensively, his programs by no means being confined to his own music. In 1936, he founded the American Composer's Alliance for promotion of new music.

Copland joined the staff of Berkshire Music Center, Tanglewood, Massachusetts, in 1940, where he subsequently taught for 25 years. Just a few years later his ballet, Appalachian Spring, won a Pulitzer Prize.

Aaron Copland died on 2 December, 1990, a few weeks after his 90th birthday.

contributed by Gifford, Katya


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