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Aaron Copeland

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Aaron Copland was born on November 14, 1900 in New York City. His musical works ranged from ballet and orchestral music to choral music and movie scores. For the better part of four decades Aaron Copland was considered the premier composer of 20th Century American Music.

Copland learned to play piano from an older sister. By the time he was fifteen he had decided to become a composer. His first composing steps included a correspondence course. In 1921 Copland traveled to Paris to attend the newly founded music school for Americans at Fontainebleau. He was the first American student of the brilliant teacher, Nadia Boulanger. After three years in Paris he returned to New York with his first major commission, writing an organ concerto. His "Symphony for Organ and Orchestra" premiered in at Carnegie Hall in 1925.

Copland's growth as a composer followed the important trends of his time. After his return from Paris he worked with jazz rhythms in his "Piano Concerto" (1926).

In 1936 he changed his musical style toward a simpler sound. He thought this made his music more meaningful to the music listeners being created by radio and the movies. His most famous works during this period were based on American folk lore including "Billy the Kid" (1938), "Rodeo" (1942), Fanfare for the Common Man (1942), and Appalachian Spring (1944). Other works during this period were a series of movie scores including "Of Mice and Men" (1938) and "The Heiress" (1948).

After 1970 Copland stopped composing, though he continued to lecture and conduct through the mid-1980s. He died on December 2, 1990 at the Phelps Memorial Hospital in Tarrytown (Westchester County), New York.

"Copland, Aaron." Encyclopedia Britannica. 1970ed.

Pollack, Howard. Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man. New York: Holt, 1999

Shirley, Wayne. "The Aaron Copland Collection." Library of Congress. April 12, 2005



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