Copland was one of my very first choices when I decided to share about composers for this series. I adore so much of his music. It is true Americana and reflects the hope and joy of America. So many of my “favorite” pieces are by Copland that I just had to share him with you.
There are many sites where you can read more about Copland and many pieces to listen to that will really help you learn about Aaron Copland. Listen to the composer’s music is really where you learn about the person and their music. You can read all the words you want but until you absorb the music, you don’t really know. So, let’s start with Hoe-Down.
Fanfare for the Common Man is a piece that you probably have heard often but may not know where it comes from. Well, it is one of the well-known pieces by Aaron Copland. Isn’t it a gloriously strong fanfare? Have your students listen and draw what they feel while listening to it. This brass and percussion heavy piece evokes strong emotions.
Hoe-Down is a piece from the ballet Rodeo. It is probably well-known by most but is a fun piece to have kids listen and move to. They will mimic the sounds in lots of interesting ways. It was one of my favorites to do with my Kinder, 1st, and 2nd graders when I taught music.
Appalachian Spring is another ballet that you have likely heard. This was created in conjunction with the dancer Martha Graham. It is a gentle and lovely piece to start but you begin to hear the joyful exclamations of spring as the music continues. This small chamber orchestra does a lovely job of performing this piece.
Copland was born in 1900 in America to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. He attended schools in New York City. His older sister taught him to play the piano and by 15, he had chosen to be a composer. He was a student under Nadia Boulanger in Paris and learned a great deal about composition from her.
He grew in his abilities quickly and returned to America three years later. His career took off quickly from there, including a commissioned piece from Nadia Boulanger for organ. He became one of the foremost American composers. He took included the folk music and culture into his compositional styles and you can hear it in a lot of his music.
Copland was a musician, composer, teacher, writer, and conductor. He was a true American and his influence in 20th century music is still strong.
Websites on Aaron Copland:
Don’t leave this composer out of your music studies. Students love to listen to his music and it brings America to life.
Lori, At Home.