Author Topic: Aaron Copland: A Complete Survey (or as damned near complete as you could hope!)  (Read 9401 times)

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Offline Benji

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I wanted to do something interesting to mark my 1000th post, so after a good ponder i've decided to embark on a survey of one composer who is very close to my heart: Copland. I have found what seems to be a pretty complete list of works and I think I own, or have access to, a recording of almost all of it. So over the next few weeks i'll be listening to it all in order, some of it for the first time, much of it for the umpteenth and posting some thoughts and facts and history. I hope this is a worthwhile thing to offer to my good friends here and I hope we'll all learn something and perhaps i'll even encourage others to take a stroll away from Copland's well-beaten track.

So, first things first: the list! I don't think suites and transcriptions and such are included in it, except for the most popular ones but if anyone sees any omissions let me know.


1918NIGHTvocal
A SUMMER VACATIONvocal
MY HEART IS IN THE EASTvocal
1920OLD POEMvocal
THE CAT AND THE MOUSEpiano
1921PASTORALEvocal
THREE MOODSpiano
FOUR MOTETSchoral
PETIT PORTRAITpiano
1921-24MOVEMENT FOR STRING QUARTETchamber
1922ALONEvocal
PASSACAGLIA FOR PIANOpiano
1922-25GROHG (revised 1932)ballet
1923CORTEGE MACABREorchestra
AS IT FELL UPON A DAY for soprano,
  flute, and clarinet
vocal
1923-28TWO PIECES FOR STRING QUARETTchamber
1924SYMPHONY FOR ORGAN AND ORCHESTRAorchestra
1925DANCE SYMPHONYorchestra
MUSIC FOR THE THEATREorchestra
TWO CHORUSES ("The House on
  the Hill," "An Immortality")
chorus
1926PIANO
  CONCERTO
orchestra
TWO PIECES FOR VIOLIN AND PIANOchamber
SENTIMENTAL MELODYpiano
1926/48FOUR
  PIANO BLUES
piano
1927POET’S SONGvocal
1927-30SYMPHONIC ODE (revised 1955)orchestra
1928VOCALISEvocal
FIRST SYMPHONY (arrangement of
  Organ Symphony)
orchestra
1929VITEBSK for piano, violin, and
  cello
chamber
1930PIANO
  VARIATIONS
piano
1931MIRACLE
  AT VERDUN
incidental
1933SHORT
  SYMPHONY
orchestra
1934HEAR
  YE! HEAR YE!
ballet
STATEMENTS FOR ORCHESTRAorchestra
INTO THE STREETS MAY FIRSTchorus
1935WHAT
  DO WE PLANT?
chorus
SUNDAY AFTERNOON MUSICpiano
THE YOUNG PIONEERSpiano
1935-36EL SALON
  MEXICO
orchestra
1936-37THE SECOND
  HURRICANE
opera
PRAIRIE JOURNAL (originally called
  MUSIC FOR RADIO)
orchestra
1937SEXTET
  (arrangement of Short Symphony) for string quartet, clarinet, and piano
chamber
1938BILLY THE
  KID
ballet
AN OUTDOOR OVERTUREorchestra
LARKchorus
1939THE CITYfilm
OF MICE AND MENfilm
1939-41PIANO
  SONATA
piano
1940OUR TOWNfilm
QUIET CITYorchestra
1940JOHN
  HENRY (rev. 1952)
orchestra
1941EPISODEorgan
1942DANZON CUBANO for 2-pianospiano
LAS AGACHADASchorus
FANFARE FOR THE COMMON MANorchestra
LINCOLN PORTRAITorchestra
MUSIC FOR MOVIESorchestra
RODEOballet
1943SONG
  OF THE GUERILLAS
orchestra
NORTH STARfilm
SONATA FOR VIOLIN AND PIANOchamber
1944APPALACHIAN
  SPRING
ballet
LETTER FROM HOME (revised 1962)orchestra
1944-46SYMPHONY
  NO. 3
orchestra
1944/82MIDDAY
  THOUGHTS
piano
1945JUBILEE
  VARIATIONS
orchestra
THE CUMMINGTON STORYfilm
1947IN THE
  BEGINNING
chorus
1947/77MIDSUMMER
  NOCTURNE
piano
1947-48CLARINET
  CONCERTO
orchestra
1948THE RED
  PONY
film
THE HEIRESSfilm
1949PREAMBLE FOR A SOLEMN OCCASIONorchestra
1949-50TWELVE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSONvocal
1950OLD
  AMERICAN SONGS, SET I
vocal
QUARTET FOR PIANO AND STRINGSchamber
1952OLD AMERICAN SONGS, SET IIvocal
1952-54THE TENDER LAND (revised 1955)opera
1954DIRGE IN
  WOODS
vocal
1955CANTICLE OF FREEDOM (revised
  1967)
orchestra
1955-57PIANO
  FANTASY
piano
1957THE WORLD
  OF NICK ADAMS
television
ORCHESTRAL VARIATIONS
  (transcription of Piano Variations)
orchestra
1958-70EIGHT POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON
  (orchestral version)
vocal
1959DANCE PANELS (revised 1962)ballet
1959-72THREE LATIN AMERICAN SKETCHESorchestra
1960NONET FOR STRINGSchamber
1961SOMETHING
  WILD
film
1962DOWN
  A COUNTRY LANE
piano
CONNOTATIONSorchestra
1963DANZA DE JALISCO (in Latin
  American Sketches) for 2-pianos
piano
1964EMBLEMS FOR WIND ENSEMBLEchamber
MUSIC FOR A GREAT CITYorchestra
1966IN
  EVENING AIR
piano
1967INSCAPEorchestra
1969INAUGURAL (CEREMONIAL) FANFAREorchestra
HAPPY ANNIVERSARYorchestra
1971DUO FOR FLUTE AND PIANOchamber
THRENODY I: IN MEMORIAM IGOR
  STRAVINSKY for flute, violin, viola, and cello
chamber
1972NIGHT THOUGHTS: HOMAGE TO IVESpiano
3 LATIN AMERICAN SKETCHESorchestra
1973THRENODY II: IN MEMORIAM BEATRICE
  CUNNINGHAM for flute, violin, viola, and cello chamber
chamber
1973-82PROCLAMATIONpiano

« Last Edit: November 08, 2010, 05:05:30 PM by Benji »

Bulldog

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You are embarking on a very time consuming project.  I applaud your dedication and motivation. 8)

DavidW

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I love the piano trio btw, good luck! :)  And mail me a rip of your project when you're done. ;) ;D

Offline Benji

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You are embarking on a very time consuming project.  I applaud your dedication and motivation. 8)

It will be a labour of love!  :)

I love the piano trio btw, good luck! :)  And mail me a rip of your project when you're done. ;) ;D

That'll be a new one to me so i'm looking forward to that!

Now if I can only get the whole damned list to post... Done! That's as good as it's getting...  8)
« Last Edit: November 05, 2010, 04:57:53 PM by Benji »

Offline Benji

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First things first!

Four Early Songs:
I. Night (1918)
II. A Summer Vacation (1918)
III. My heart is in the East (1918)
IV. Alone (1922)

Recorded on this Barbara Bonney album



The first three of these songs (to texts by Aaron Schaffer) were written when Copland was just 18, only three years into his musical education and prior to departing for Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. However, none of the four songs were published until 1989.

The first, Night is rather impressionistic; it shows a strong influence of Debussy. in fact all four songs are very much European in their sound. There is no detecting what Copland would soon become, but that is not to say that they sound immature. I'm no expert on piano, or vocal music, but if there are any weaknesses in the composition they're well disguised. To my ears Copland seems entirely confident even at this early stage. Prodigious indeed.

The final of the four songs, Alone, written a whole four years later certainly seems more mature to me. Based on an Arabic text by J. Duncan, it certainly has the feeling of a nocturnal Arabesque.

I wish I could comment more on Copland's vocal writing. Vocal/piano music is a genre i've barely dipped my toes into so if there is anyone with experience who knows the songs and can provide some insight i'd love to hear.

So nothing especially profound here, but certainly delightful and enjoyable. I loved listening to Barbara Bonney I must say.  :)

DavidW

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That is a stupid name for that album! :D

karlhenning

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"Zeke, angle the camera to maximize the cleavage, there's a  good fellow."
 
Thread duty:
 
Fine list, and an outstanding thread, Ben!

Offline mc ukrneal

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Great idea! Will be following along....
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Offline Maciek

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I remember someone saying something quite funny about that cover...

(I like Copland's music very much - will be following this thread with great interest.)

Online The new erato

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Very fine idea for a thread about a composer I appreciate a lot and want to know more about. I hope you stay the course; the board has dried up for good threads recently.

Offline Guido

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That is a stupid name for that album! :D

No it isn't. She is called Barbara it is true, but it's actually the name of one of the Bernstein songs she sings on it.
Geologist.

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karlhenning

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Doesn't necessarily mean that the name isn't stupid. Just saying.

DavidW

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No it isn't. She is called Barbara it is true, but it's actually the name of one of the Bernstein songs she sings on it.

Oh :-[  Well I feel stupid now.  Thanks for the correction. :)

Offline Benji

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Thanks for all the positive encouraging comments, folks. I've found a lot of useful resources via the power of the web so i'm very excited to share what i'm finding with you all. All in good time!  :D

The hardest part is actually not listening to the later music. I usually listen to the piano concerto probably once a week and quiet city fairly often as well, two pieces I never tire of. It'll be fun to find out more about them when their time comes.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2010, 05:47:55 AM by Benji »

Offline Bogey

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Cool thread!
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline Benji

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Offline Mirror Image

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I enjoy Copland a good bit. He's not one of those composers I could live without, but he wrote some good compositions nontheless. I'll be interested to see what you own out of his works and will be following the thread to see if you've got a lot of the early works, which aren't performed as much as the mid to later period works.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Guido

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Maybe it would be good to say why you thought Copland was such a great composer first. I have to say that he's probably my least favourite of what I think of as the five biggest names in American composing: Barber, Ives, Copland, Gershwin and Carter.

In my my mind, the first two and last two fall nicely into pairs  - Barber the consummate professional and master of traditional technique opposite Ives the "amateur" with his striving transcendental experimentalism, and Gershwin the popular, melodic and sentimental against Carter the dissonant, spiky, phantasmagorical "musicians" composer. Copland is somewhere in the middle of these pairings, but actually not as good as any of them I think. I love some of his best work (Appalachian Spring, Piano Sonata, Dickinson Songs) but too much of the oeuvre seems to be significantly below par considering that he is now almost universally seen as one of the Great Composers of the 20th century.

Cage and Feldman are very dear to me also but are far too strange/individual to seem in any way reflective of some kind of national aesthetic.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Maybe it would be good to say why you thought Copland was such a great composer first. I have to say that he's probably my least favourite of what I think of as the five biggest names in American composing: Barber, Ives, Copland, Gershwin and Carter.

In my my mind, the first two and last two fall nicely into pairs  - Barber the consummate professional and master of traditional technique opposite Ives the "amateur" with his striving transcendental experimentalism, and Gershwin the popular, melodic and sentimental against Carter the dissonant, spiky, phantasmagorical "musicians" composer. Copland is somewhere in the middle of these pairings, but actually not as good as any of them I think. I love some of his best work (Appalachian Spring, Piano Sonata, Dickinson Songs) but too much of the oeuvre seems to be significantly below par considering that he is now almost universally seen as one of the Great Composers of the 20th century.

Cage and Feldman are very dear to me also but are far too strange/individual to seem in any way reflective of some kind of national aesthetic.

I think there are many fine American composers. Two of my favorites are Piston and Diamond. I also have found pleasure in the minimalism of Reich and Adams. For me, there were significant American composers who helped contribute to the United States becoming a country that produces original and individual classical music.
 
A matter of opinion, but I don't think Barber, Ives, Copland, Gershwin and Carter tell the whole story. Schuman, Cowell, Harris, Creston, Bernstein, Thomson, etc. were all inventive American composers as well.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2010, 06:54:41 AM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Guido

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Absolutely, I think so too, but to me they are all secondary in quality and importance to the 5 (plus 2) that I mentioned. I would not be without Piston's second, Schuman's violin concerto, Bernstein's clarinet sonata, Ruth Crawford Seeger's String Quartet or Ruggles' Suntreader to name but five pieces off the top of my head. The "whole story" of American music would need to mention every American composer. But there are of course as in every art form of every period, more and less important artists.
Geologist.

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