Aaron Copland


Born: November 14, 1900 – Brooklyn, New York 

Died:  December 2, 1990 – Tarrytown, New York


A few facts about Aaron Copland


  • At the age of eleven Copland wrote his first notated piece of music: seven bars of an opera called Zenatello.  He decided to become a composer four years later.
  • He studied for three years in Paris with Nadia Boulanger as did Astro Piazzolla, another of today’s composers.  When he returned to North America, he formed a “commando unit” of young American composers who had been Boulanger students: Roger Sessions, Roy Harris, Virgil Thomson, and Walter Piston.
  • In the decade between 1938 and 1948 he composed his best-known pieces: the three ballets, Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and Appalachian Spring, A Lincoln Portrait, Fanfare for the Common Man, Symphony #3 and the Clarinet Concerto.
  • In 1950 Copland received an Academy Award for the score for The Heiress. Three more of his scores received nominations: Of Mice and Men (1939), Our Town (1940), and The North Star (1943).
  • Copland influenced an entire generation of American composers, conductors, and performers.  He taught and mentored Leonard Bernstein, Alberto Ginastera, and Michael Tilson Thomas. 
  • In the 1960s Copland turned to conducting; he composed a few pieces but felt no new inspiration.  He appeared as a guest with orchestras in the U.S. and U.K and under contract with Columbia recorded much of his own music.  During the last years of his life, he suffered from Alzheimer’s.



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