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: Billy the Kid: Suite

Browse 1-25 of 27 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection Vol 1
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 541497 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Jacques Ibert,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Berj Zamkochian,  John Weicher,  Philip Farkas,  Jascha Heifetz  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Arthur Fiedler  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  New England Conservatory Alumni Chorus  ... 
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  • 2.
    San Francisco Symphony At 100
    Label: San Francisco Symphony   Catalog: 52 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
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  • 3.
    San Francisco Symphony At 100 [blu-ray]
    Label: San Francisco Symphony   Catalog: 57 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Copland: Rodeo- Four Dance Episodes; Piano Concerto; Billy The Kid   Suite / Schwarz, Seattle
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8571202 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Lorin Hollander
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
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  • 5.
    American Classics / Baltimore, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra   Catalog: 19 Release Date: 07/27/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Leonard Bernstein,  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  John Baltimore
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Dallas Symphony Orchestra - The Eduardo Mata Years
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 92109 Release Date: 04/27/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Igor Stravinsky,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Conductor:  Eduardo Mata
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Copland: Appalachian Spring, Billy The Kid; Britten / Ormandy
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 38127 Release Date: 04/22/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
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    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 8.
    Leonard Bernstein - The Early Years
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 60915 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Leonard Bernstein
    Performer:  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  On the Town Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
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  • 9.
    Copland, Ives, Rachmaninoff / Johanos, Dallas So
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5035 Release Date: 05/08/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Aaron Copland,  Charles Ives
    Conductor:  Donald Johanos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra
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  • 10.
    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
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  • 11.
    Copland: Billy The Kid; Third Symphony
    Label: Everest   Catalog: 7519002 Release Date: 05/12/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
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  • 12.
    Copland, Grofe / Morton Gould
    Label: Rca Victor Living Stereo   Catalog: 67904 Release Date: 02/07/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ferde Grofé,  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Morton Gould
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Morton Gould Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Copland: Works For Piano Duo / Goldina, Loumbrozo
    Label: Phoenix Usa   Catalog: 154 Release Date: 05/11/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Arianna Goldina,  Rémy Loumbrozo
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  • 14.
    Americana - Siegmeister, Ives, Copland, Gould, Sousa
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5182 Release Date: 12/10/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Philip Sousa,  Morton Gould,  Aaron Copland,  Charles Ives  ... 
    Performer:  Dennis D. Rooney
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel,  Donald Johanos,  Lukas Foss,  Maurice Abravanel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops,  Dallas Symphony Orchestra,  Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 15.
    American Classics - Copland: Symphony No 3, Etc / Judd
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559106 Release Date: 04/16/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  James Judd
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Original Jacket Collection - Leonard Bernstein
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 89750 Release Date: 12/04/2001   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Jean Sibelius,  Gustav Mahler,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Raymond Sabinsky,  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
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  • 17.
    The Essence Of America - Copland / Tilson Thomas, Et Al
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63720 Release Date: 09/12/2000   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Garrick Ohlsson
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $23.99
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  • 18.
    Copland The Populist / Tilson Thomas, San Francisco So
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63511 Release Date: 05/16/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Copland: Music For Two Pianos / Nyaho-garcia Duo
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2405 Release Date: 12/02/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Susanna Garcia,  William Chapman Nyaho
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nyaho-Garcia Duo
    CD: $17.99
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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    Western Classics
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1603 Release Date: 07/16/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Howard Hanson,  Alan Hovhaness,  Aaron Copland,  Ferde Grofe
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra,  Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
    CD: $12.99
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  • 22.
    Basic 100 Vol 51 - Copland: Appalachian Spring, Etc
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 68020 Release Date: 11/08/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Aaron Copland,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
    CD: $8.99
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  • 23.
    An American Panorama - Bernstein, Harris, Copland / Mata
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 90170 Release Date: 08/31/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Roy Harris,  Aaron Copland,  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Eduardo Mata
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra
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  • 24.
    Copland: Billy The Kid;  Grofe: Grand Canyon Suite / Gould
    Label: Rca Victor Living Stereo   Catalog: 61667 Release Date: 05/11/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ferde Grofé,  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Morton Gould
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Morton Gould Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Copland - Greatest Hits
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 60837 Release Date: 09/06/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  Aaron Copland,  Arthur Fiedler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Pops
    CD: $8.99
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