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date: 15 October 2019

Copland, Aaronlocked

  • Neil Lerner

Extract

(b Brooklyn, NY, 14 Nov 1900; d North Tarrytown, NY, 2 Dec 1990). American composer for screen, stage, and concert hall. Before Aaron Copland became interested in writing music for film in the late 1930s, he was already recognized as one of his generation’s leading composers. Notable early works like his Piano Concerto (1926) or his Piano Variations (1930) were regarded as modernist for their use of jazz elements and extended dissonances, but by the mid-1930s Copland’s output was becoming more accessible to wider audiences, with pieces like El Salón México (1936) and Billy the Kid (1938). His interest in film music occurred, then, as part of his broader efforts to cultivate and reach a larger audience, a shift to a more accessible musical style that has been connected with Copland’s own phrase, ‘imposed simplicity’. At the time Copland pondered the writing of film music—he travelled to Hollywood in June of ...

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