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The Selected Correspondence of Aaron Copland

The Selected Correspondence of Aaron Copland

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Selected Correspondence of Aaron Copland
    Book Description:

    This is the first book devoted to the correspondence of composer Aaron Copland, covering his life from age eight to eighty-seven. The chronologically arranged collection includes letters to many significant figures in American twentieth-century music as well as Copland's friends, family, teachers, and colleagues. Selected for readability, interest, and the light they cast upon the composer's thoughts and career, the letters are carefully annotated and each published in its entirety.Copland was a gifted and natural letter writer who revealed much more about himself in his letters than in formal writings in which he was conscious of his position as spokesman for modern music. The collected letters offer insights into his music, personality, and ideas, along with fascinating glimpses into the lives of such other well-known musicians as Leonard Bernstein, Carlos Chávez, William Schuman, and Virgil Thomson.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13347-9
    Subjects: History, Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Brooklyn and Paris, 1909–24
    (pp. 1-42)

    Born in 1900 to a family of Russian-Jewish descent, the young Aaron Copland lived a comfortable, middle-class life in Brooklyn, New York. His parents, Harris and Sarah, owned a successful dry-goods store, and Aaron was the youngest of their five children. He was perhaps closest to his eldest sister, Laurine, who encouraged Aaron’s musical interests and introduced him to the piano. Aaron was a musical child, drawn both to the piano and to composition; at age eleven he began writing an opera—the plot was sketched completely, but the music never proceeded past the seventh bar—and by his teens...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The World of Modern Music, 1924–31
    (pp. 43-87)

    After his return from Paris, Copland concentrated on writing a work for organ and orchestra to be performed by Nadia Boulanger during her visit to the United States. Thanks to her connections with conductors Walter Damrosch, of the New York Symphony Orchestra, and Serge Koussevitzky, newly appointed to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she had arranged a commission and two performances of Copland’s piece, guaranteeing his auspicious introduction to the American public. Koussevitzky in particular proved a valuable supporter; after presenting theSymphony for Organ and Orchestrain February 1925, he eagerly premiered Copland’s next big work,Music for the Theatre...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Depression Years, 1932–37
    (pp. 88-119)

    In the summer of 1932, the First Festival of Contemporary American Music was held on April 30 and May 1, 1932, at the estate of Katrina and Spencer Trask, known as Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, New York. Copland was principally responsible for selecting the programs and performers. The concerts featured pieces by members of the newly formed Young Composers’ Group, students of Boulanger, and people Copland knew through the League of Composers, as well as chamber works by Mexican composers Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas. To provide some historical background for the more contemporary works on the program, Copland also...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Musical Triumphs, 1937–42
    (pp. 120-147)

    The years between 1937 and 1942 were some of the busiest and most productive of Copland’s career. In 1937, he returned to Mexico to attend the First Festival of Pan American Chamber Music at the invitation of its sponsor, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, and on August 27, he attended the world premiere ofEl Salón México,performed by Carlos Chávez and the Orquesta Sinfónica de México. Also in 1937, Copland attended the premiere ofThe Second Hurricane,composed a piece for CBS radio (Music for Radio), lectured at the New School for Social Research, and was instrumental in the founding of...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE During and After the War, 1942–48
    (pp. 148-190)

    After the success of his film scores forOf Mice and MenandOur Town,Aaron Copland returned to Hollywood in 1943 to compose music forThe North Star.William Wyler had originally been slated to directThe North Starbut was called to military service, so Lewis Milestone, with whom Copland had worked onOf Mice and Men,was brought in as a replacement. With a story by Lillian Hellman,The North Starwas a work of wartime propaganda, intended to foster pro-Soviet and anti-Nazi sentiment. Unlike Copland’s previous film scores, the music forThe North Starincluded several...

  10. CHAPTER SIX The Post-War Decade, 1948–58
    (pp. 191-220)

    In the years following World War II, Aaron Copland assumed the undisputed role of ‘‘dean of American composers.’’ He was recognized as the leading figure among composers of his era and as the public face of American music. The 1950s brought many accolades, including a Fulbright Fellowship to the American Academy in Rome (1951), the Norton Professorship at Harvard University (1951–52), membership in the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1954), and a Gold Medal from the academy (1956). Copland was also awarded his first honorary doctorate, from Princeton University, in 1956. He was in demand both...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN 1958 and Beyond
    (pp. 221-250)

    As Copland toured the world conducting and lecturing, he kept in touch with his family and friends, relating bits and pieces of his experiences in short letters. His later years found him involved with conducting and preparing to write his memoirs but were not productive of substantial correspondence. Anniversaries of friends were observed, letters of recommendation written, and the business of the MacDowell Colony—of which Copland was president from 1961 to 1967—continued. Copland wrote of musical matters in letters to Carlos Chávez, up to the year of Chávez’s death in 1978.

    Through the mid-1960s Copland continued to compose...

  12. Index of Correspondents
    (pp. 251-252)
  13. Index of Copland’s Works
    (pp. 253-255)
  14. General Index
    (pp. 256-269)