Aaron Copland

Biography

Born: 1900   Died: 1990   Country: USA   Period: 20th Century
Few figures in American music loom as large as Aaron Copland. As one of the first wave of literary and musical expatriates in Paris during the 1920s, Copland returned to the United States with the means to assume, for the next half century, a central role in American music as composer, promoter, and educator. Copland's sheer popularity and iconic status are such that his music has transcended the concert hall and entered the popular Read more consciousness; it both accompanies solemn and joyous celebrations the world over (Fanfare for the Common Man) and punctuates the familiar words "Beef: It's What's for Dinner!" (Rodeo) for millions of television viewers.

Copland was the youngest of five children born to Harris and Sarah Copland, Lithuanian Jewish immigrants who owned a department store in Brooklyn. He did not take formal piano lessons until he was 13, by which time he had also begun writing small pieces. Instead of attending college, Copland studied theory and composition with Rubin Goldmark and piano with Victor Wittgenstein and Clarence Adler, and attended as many concerts, operas, and ballets as possible. In 1921, he went to Fontainebleau, France, taking conducting and composition classes at the American Conservatory. He went on to study in Paris with Ricardo Viñes and Nadia Boulanger and spent the next three years soaking up all the European culture, both new and old, that he could. He learned to admire not only composers like Stravinsky, Milhaud, Fauré, and Mahler, but others such as author André Gide. Boulanger's performance of Copland's 1924 Organ Symphony with Koussevitzky was the beginning of a friendship between the conductor and composer that led to Copland teaching at the Berkshire Music Center (Tanglewood) from 1940 until 1965.

After his return to America, Copland drifted toward an incisive, austere style that captured something of the sobriety of Depression-torn America. The most representative work of this period -- the Piano Variations (1930) -- remains one of the composer's seminal efforts. He tried to avoid taking a university position, instead writing for journals and newspapers, organizing concerts, and taking on administrative duties for composers' organizations, trying to promote American music. By the mid-1930s, taking the direct engagement of and communication with audiences as one of his central tenets, Copland's compositions developed (in parallel with other composers like Virgil Thomson and Roy Harris) an "American" style marked by folk influences, a new melodic and harmonic simplicity, and an appealing directness free from intellectual pretension. This is nowhere more in evidence than in Copland's ballets of this period, and it finally earned him the respect of the general public. While Copland gradually became less prolific from the mid-1950s on, he continued to experiment and explore "fresh" means of musical expression, including a highly individual adoption of 12-tone principles in works like the Piano Fantasy and Connotations for orchestra. Still, the fundamentally lyrical nature of Copland's language remained intact and occasionally emerged -- with an often surprising retrospective air -- in works like the Duo for flute and piano (1971). He continued to teach and write and received numerous awards both in America and abroad. In 1958, he began conducting orchestras around the world, performing works by 80 other composers as well as his own over the next 20 years. By the mid-'70s, Copland had for all intents and purposes ceased composing. One of the last of his creative accomplishments was the completion of his two-volume autobiography (with musicologist Vivian Perlis), an essential document in understanding the growth of American music in the twentieth century. Read less

Work: Appalachian Spring: Suite

Browse 1-25 of 32 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 4810863 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Emma Matthews
    Conductor:  Benjamin Northey
    CD: $22.49
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  • 2.
    Leonard Bernstein Collection Vol 1 [59 CDs & 1 DVD]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 2027800 Release Date: 04/22/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Leonard Bernstein,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Performer:  René Kollo,  Dame Gwyneth Jones,  Kurt Moll,  Hanna Schwarz  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Kent Nagano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Concert Choir,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    La Folie Americaine! - Dvorak, Gershwin, Bernstein, Barber, Copland, Glass, Adams
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 2564634485 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Samuel Barber,  Philip Glass,  Aaron Copland  ... 
    Performer:  André Previn,  Hélène Grimaud,  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  David Zinman,  John McGlinn,  Simon Rattle  ... 
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  • 4.
    Decca Sound - The Analogue Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001934702 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 54
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Anton Bruckner,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Marilyn Horne,  Luciano Pavarotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Sir Georg Solti,  Bernard Haitink,  Horst Stein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $169.98
    CD: $148.49
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  • 5.
    Copland: Fanfare For The Common Man; Barber: Adagio
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001706402 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  Zubin Mehta
    CD: $8.99
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  • 6.
    Copland: Appalachian Spring, Symphonic Ode; Creston: Symphony No 3 / Schwarz, Seattle Symphony
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8571203 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Creston,  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 7.
    The Pulitzer Project - Pulitzer Prize-Winning Works
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 125 Release Date: 06/28/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Schuman,  Aaron Copland,  Leo Sowerby
    Conductor:  Carlos Kalmar
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grant Park Orchestra,  Grant Park Chorus
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  • 8.
    Copland: Appalachian Spring; Quiet City; Short Symphony
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 958747 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Raymond Mase,  Stephen Taylor
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
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  • 9.
    Copland: Ballet Suites, Fanfare For The Common Man / Ellis
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks   Catalog: 28410 Release Date: 02/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Philip Ellis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 10.
    Copland: Appalachian Spring;  Barber, Bernstein, Schuman
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 413324 Release Date: 01/30/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland,  William Schuman,  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Best Ballet 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 15220 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Léon Fyodorovich Minkus,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Aram Khachaturian,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Donohoe,  Norman Carol,  Philip Gammon,  Christopher Warren-Green  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Irving,  John Lanchbery,  André Previn,  Aram Khachaturian  ... 
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  • 12.
    Copland: Appalachian Spring, Etc / Orpheus CO
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 427335 Release Date: 11/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Stephen Taylor,  Raymond Mase
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
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  • 13.
    American Music Of The Twentieth Century - Barber, Copland
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 91339 Release Date: 07/17/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland,  Leonard Bernstein,  Tobias Picker
    Performer:  Helen McQueen,  Crispian Steele-Perkins
    Conductor:  Jukka-Pekka Saraste,  Carl Davis,  Richard Hickox,  Andrew Litton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Chamber Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  City of London Sinfonia  ... 
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  • 14.
    Weekend Classics - A Copland Weekend
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000658302 Release Date: 07/04/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Maurice Abravanel,  William Steinberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Utah Symphony Orchestra,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 15.
    Sergei Koussevitzky (Box)
    Label: Membran International Gmbh   Catalog: 1073089 Release Date: 04/27/2006   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Howard Hanson,  Roy Harris,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  William Primrose
    Conductor:  Serge Koussevitzky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Copland: Rarities And Masterpieces / Steven Richman, Harmonie Ensemble New York
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9145 Release Date: 04/27/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Diane Walsh,  Lawrence Dutton,  Eugene Drucker
    Conductor:  Steven Richman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Harmonie Ensemble
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  • 17.
    Essential Aaron Copland - 12 Greatest Hits
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4752452 Release Date: 10/14/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Gregory Peck
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  Antal Doráti,  Elgar Howarth,  Sir Neville Marriner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,  Detroit Symphony Orchestra,  London Sinfonietta  ... 
    On sale! $15.99
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  • 18.
    Rainbow Body - Barber, Copland, Higdon, Theofanidis / Spano
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80596 Release Date: 05/27/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jennifer Higdon,  Chris Theofanidis,  Aaron Copland,  Samuel Barber
    Conductor:  Robert Spano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite, Quiet City, Clarinet Concerto
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559069 Release Date: 11/19/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Scott Moore,  Paula Engerer,  Laura Arden
    Conductor:  Paul Gambill
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nashville Chamber Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Copland 100 / Eiji Oue, Minnesota Orchestra
    Label: Reference Recordings   Catalog: 93 Release Date: 08/15/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Eiji Oue
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite, Etc / Clark, Pacific So
    Label: Reference Recordings   Catalog: 22 Release Date: 11/11/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Marni Nixon
    Conductor:  Keith Clark
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacific Symphony Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Copland: Tender Land Suite, Appalachian Spring / Sidlin, Yunus, Macneil
    Label: Koch International Classics   Catalog: 7403 Release Date: 11/18/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Monica Yunus,  Robert MacNeil
    Conductor:  Murry Sidlin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Third Angle New Music Ensemble
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  • 23.
    Bernstein Century - Copland: Appalachian Spring, Rodeo, Etc
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 63082 Release Date: 10/28/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 24.
    Copland - The Music Of America / Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80339 Release Date: 01/28/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Philip Collins,  William Harrod
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops
    CD: $16.99
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  • 25.
    Copland: Fanfare For The Common Man, Etc / Mehta, Et Al
    Label: London/Decca Double Decker   Catalog: 448261 Release Date: 04/09/1996   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Marilyn Horne,  Gregory Peck
    Conductor:  Antal Doráti,  Carl Davis,  Elgar Howarth,  Sir Neville Marriner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble  ... 
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