American Mavericks

Aaron Copland

(b. Brooklyn, New York, November 14 1900; d. North Tarrytown, New York, December 2 1990)

After studies in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, Aaron Copland returned to this country as a young musical firebrand. During the Depression and Second World War, he became increasingly aware of what he considered the artist’s responsibility to reach the broadest audience without diminishing the quality of the music. His new populist style was exemplified by his music for the ballets Billy the Kid (1938), Rodeo (1942), and Appalachian Spring (1944).

Copland also wrote a craggier music, of which we hear examples in the Piano Variations (1930) and Inscape (1967). A great educator as well as a pluralist, he authored the books What to Listen for in Music (1939), Our New Music (1941, revised in 1968 as The New Music), and Music and Imagination (1952).