- Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays

Aaron Copland - Billy the Kid

Essay by   •  November 16, 2010  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,157 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,388 Views

Essay Preview: Aaron Copland - Billy the Kid

Report this essay
Page 1 of 5

Aaron Copland wrote a ballet about one of the most famous western gangsters in history: Billy the Kid. The work was written in 1938 and remained popular for over a decade. Unfortunately, his works are no longer heard or performed often enough today. In my opinion, Copland is one of the greatest American performers in music history, but he is not given the recognition he deserves by today's society. By looking at Copland's works and analyzing his Billy the Kid, the necessary proof of his greatness will, without question, show the fact that he is one of the greatest American composers of all time. Aaron Copland, whose family name was changed from Kapland by immigration officials in New York, was born on November 14, 1900 and died December 2, 1990. His parents were of Lithuanian Jewish descent. His parents emigrated from Russia to the United States. His father owned a department store and they did not live lavishly. As he explained, I was born on November 14, 1900 on a street in Brooklyn that can only be Geruso 2 described as drab. It had none of the garish color of the ghetto, none of the charm of an old New England thoroughfare, or even a pioneer street....He began to take piano lessons at the age of fourteen under the tutelage of his sister Laurine. Soon he wanted more professional lessons. Despite the fact that his four elder siblings had taken lessons with no success, he convinced his parents to pay for lessons. I distinctly remember with what fear and trembling I knocked on the door of Mr. Leopold Wolfsohn's piano studio on Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn, and-once again all by myself-arranged for piano lessons. The idea of composing music was not connected...with my family or with my street. By the age of 18 he had graduated high school and decided to devote all his time and energy to music. Under the direction of Rubin Goldmark he studied the theory of harmony and the works of Chopin, Haydn, Beethoven, Wagner, Hugo Wolf, Debussy, and Scriabin. Finally his studies led him to France at the age of 21, where he studied under Paul Vidal for a short period of time and then under Mlle. Boulanger for three years. Before returning to America, in 1924, Mlle. Nadia Boulanger asked Mr. Copland to write her a piece to perform on an American tour. He accepted and wrote Symphony for organ and orchestra, with Walter Camrosch as conductor and Nadia Boulanger as soloist.... Also during this time, he wrote The Cat and the Mouse and a Passacaglia which made him known to a large and influential public and definitely established his position in American musical life. His musical career took off from there with invitations to write original pieces for concerts, tours, and such groups as the Boston Symphony. In 1938, Copland wrote a ballet about William Bonney. William grew up in Brooklyn, New York, Aaron's hometown. At the age of 12 he saw his mother shot by a wayward bullet during a street brawl. Following this he stabbed the man responsible for his mother's death. This is the first of several murders William commits. Later in life he is accused of cheating during a card game and kills the accuser. Finally, he is captured after a showdown and jailed. To flee from prison, he slayed his jailer and escaped. William then meets his lover in the desert and is murdered by his boyhood companion-turned-sheriff Pat Garrett. All of these actions gained young William the nickname Billy the Kid. Copland's rendition includes many classic cowboy tunes. For example, in the first scene, entitled Street in a Frontier Town, Copland used such tunes of the Wild West as Goodbye, Old Paint; The Old Chisholm Trail; Git Along, Little Dogies; The Streets of Geruso 4 Laredo; and Great Grand-Dad. The songs throughout the piece are slightly changed, providing for great musical adaptation and amazing listening. But the composer decked them out with poly-rhythms, polytonal harmonies, and dissonance made more striking because they fall on accent beats. The result is a music of powerful rhythmic thrust and vigorous physical activity, bursting with energy and excitement as it mounts



Download as:   txt (6.6 Kb)   pdf (94 Kb)   docx (11.4 Kb)  
Continue for 4 more pages »
Only available on