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.