If you don't know Aaron Copland's name, you've heard his music. The lofty, declamatory flourishes of his Fanfare for
the Common Man have appeared in TV ads, awakened the space-shuttle astronauts, launched the Atlanta Olympics,
and accompanied Reagan's inauguration. The little piece, which resounds in the finale to Copland's masterful Third Symphony, evokes images of a boundless frontier, full of possibilities.
Such was the state of American music when the young Brooklyn-born composer hit Paris in 1920. He didn't know a
soul, but it didn't matter. The city was hopping. Stravinsky, Ravel, and Prokofiev made their homes there, as did the composers known as Les Six. It was headquarters to Joyce, Picasso, Stein and Hemingway. Copland soaked up his
avant-garde surroundings like a sponge, and he flirted with jazz. Returning to America, he lectured and wrote about new music, and showcased emerging composers in his landmark Copland-Sessions concert series. Changing directions,
Copland aimed for a broader audience in the 1930s and 40s by embracing a simpler, more accessible style, yet retaining his jagged edge of yore. Some of his most enduring works date from this time, such as El Salón México, Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and Appalachian Spring. In later years, he dabbled in serialism, and recorded a sizable portion of his orchestral and chamber works. As a performer, he strove to achieve clarity and rhythmic exactitude, but, in truth, Copland was
not so persuasive a Copland conductor as his foremost advocate, Leonard Bernstein.
It¹s debatable whether Copland was the 20th century's foremost American composer, a title some may reserve for
figures as disparate as Ives, Ellington, and Gershwin. But when the question arises as to who laid the groundwork
that allows American composers to be in touch with their own voice, Copland remains the proverbial architect.
Record Label: Sony Classical
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