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Transcript of Aaron Copland
MUSIC & FILM
Education & Music
First large-scale works: the ballet Grohg (now known principally through the excerpt Dance Symphony, and the Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, with which he introduced himself to American audiences.
Jewish immigrants from Lithuania- parents
Parents owed & ran department store
The family lived above the store
H.M. Copland's, -a neighborhood Macy's
developed an interest in the piano
Laurine was his first piano teacher
At the age of eleven, Copland devised an opera scenario he called Zenatello, which included seven bars of music, his first notated melody.
Education & Music
In the realm of film music, Copland received two
nominations, for "Of Mice and Men" and "Our Town"
After the 1970's Copland nearly stopped composing yet he didn't miss it as much
He stated "You'd think if you had spent 50 years at it you'd have the feeling that something was missing,[...} I must have expressed myself sufficiently. I certainly don't feel tortured or bitter, only lucky to have been given so long to be creative." (Rockwell)
He still remained active by conducting his own works
he traveled across the world doing live performances
also popularized American music
devoted the rest of his time to conducting and revising his past compositions
His last performance was in 1983
1945-Wins Pulitzer Prize in music for "Appalachian Spring"
1950-Wins Academy Award for Best Original Musical Score for the film "The Heiress"
1961-Copland was the honorary member of the Alpha Epsilon chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
1964-Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson
1970-Honored with the University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit
Awarded Yale University's Sanford Medal.
1970-Awarded the Charles E. Lutton Man of Music Award
1986-honored with the National Medal of Arts
1987-The United States Congress awarded him with a special Congressional Gold Medal
American Folk Music Influence
Fanfare for the Common Man
good musical training
conservative but thorough American teacher
introduced him to the basics of composition
"scherzo humoristique" The Cat and the Mouse
Copland in Paris
In 1921 Copland recieved a scholarship to study at the Americn Conservatory in Fortainebleu, France.
-To get "American Perspective"
He was swayed by painter Marcel Duchamp to go to Paris
Some say that Copland went to Fance all along to study with Boulanger (rumor).
Once he returned to the states his career mentor was then Leonard Bernstein
He met Nadia Boulanger who was academically tough on him
She encouraged his "American Style" and wanted him to pursue a more "jazzy jewish" type of sound
He took piano lessons with with Ricardo Vines but this mentorship was short lived, he returned to Boulanger shortly after
piano teacher 1913-1917
14-18 years old
standard classical fare.
The Dean of American composers
Later Life & Death
Copland died December 2, 1990
in North Tarrytown, New York
Due to Alzheimer's Disease and respiratory failure
Copland never went to college but instead took lessons with the leading classical pianists and composers he could find, and augmented these by attending as many performances by his musical contemporaries as he could.
Copland was inspired by many different types of musical sources
the most notable was Jazz
wasn't until the late 20's (The Great Depression) he became captivated by American folk music
he wanted to incorporate the power and clarity of it
Considered music of the people
this was also around the same time he befriended a fellow composer Carlos Chávez who he had met in Mexico
he too was inspired by traditional music
Eventually this led Copland to create "El Salón México" (1936)
"depicted a fictional dance hall with both upper class and peasants musically separated by European dances and folk music"
as well as other compositions that portray the American Frontier
- "Billy the Kid" (1938) most famous for its use of cowboy tunes and American folk songs
- "Rodeo" (1942), used square dance rhythms and American folk songs to create a setting in the American Southwest
- "Appalachian Spring" (1944) along with Martha Graham this masterpiece conveyed the elements of what made up pioneer life
Arguably one of the greatest works of American music from the 20th century, was
folk-inspired simplicity while also evoking the grandiose, even epic, mythology of the American West
Unlike many gay men of his age, neither ashamed of nor tortured by his sexuality. He apparently understood and accepted it from an early age, and throughout his life was involved in relationships with other men.
In later years, his affairs were mostly with younger men, usually musicians or artists, whom he mentored, including composer Leonard Bernstein, dancer and artist Erik Johns (who wrote the libretto for The Tender Land) photographer Victor Kraft, and music critic Paul Moor.
When Hollywood wanted "serious" composers in the 1930s with promises of bettering the films and higher pay, Copland saw both a challenge for his abilities as a composer and an opportunity to expand his reputation and audience for his more serious works
He produced a number of film scores which exemplify his unique style and experimental characteristics to varying degrees
It is his music to "The Heiress" that many regard as his best for film. He was asked by director William Wyler to include references to the song "Plaisir d'Amour" within the score and this he did. (As an aside, the music for this song was later adapted into "I Can't Help falling in Love with You" sung by Elvis Presley and then in Reggae style by UB40.) However the director thought this was insufficient and on the final soundtrack replaced much of Copland's work with other pedestrian arrangements of the song. After this experience, Copland did not work on film music again.
Film & TV Music by Copland
The City - despite its title, this film is set in rural New England
Of Mice and Men
The North Star - words by Ira Gershwin
The Red Pony - film based on the John Steinbeck novella, this is an excellent example of how Copland adapted his "Americana" style into film music with a Western flavour, and he later adapted the music into a concert suite
Miles from Home
The Heiress - after the way his music was treated on this movie, Copland resolved to give film music a wide berth
Apollo Soyuz - "Fanfare for the Common Man" was used by the BBC as the signature tune for its programmes covering the Apollo Soyuz linkup mission in the mid 1970s
"Defining the American Sound"
Film Music is a new form of dramatic music-related to opera, ballet, incidental music--in contradistinction to concert music of the symphonic or chamber-music kind
Copland's Goal For Music In Film
of time and place.
2. Underlining psychological refinements—the
unspoken thoughts of a character
or the unseen implications of a situation.
3. Serving as a kind of
neutral background filler
4. Building a
sense of continuity
5. Underpinning the t
of a scene, and rounding it off with a
sense of finality
Between 1939 and 1949, the distinguished American composer Aaron Copland (1900-1990) composed five major film scores: OF MICE AND MEN, OUR TOWN, THE NORTH STAR, THE RED PONY, and THE HEIRESS. He also composed scores for two documentaries: THE CITY (New York World’s Fair, 1939) and THE CUMMINGTON STORY in 1943. His last film score was for the 1961 drama, SOMETHING WILD.
How did you compose your film scores at that time?
It was great fun to first see the film – it has no music of course. Then decide where the music is going to be used, because it’s not continuous from beginning to end. Next write the music, orchestrate it, record it, and add it to the same picture which was silent. And then with the turn of a knob you can both hear the music to the scene, turn the music off and see the scene without any music, and turn it on again. I’d like to do that with a movie audience sometime. They don’t realize the extent to which music is influencing their emotions. And that maybe would give them a better idea of the purpose that serves the needs of the film by using effective musical sounds.