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date: 17 May 2021

Copland, Aaron locked

  • Howard Pollack


(b Brooklyn, NY, Nov 14, 1900; d North Tarrytown, NY, Dec 2, 1990). American composer, writer on music, pianist, and conductor.

One of his country’s most enduringly successful composers, Copland created a distinctively American style in works of varying difficulty for a diversity of genres and mediums, including ballet, opera and film. Also active as a critic, mentor, advocate, and concert organizer, he played a decisive role in the growth of serious music in the Americas in the 20th century.

Copland’s parents were Jewish immigrants from small towns in Lithuanian Russia. His father, Harris, reached New York via Glasgow and Manchester while still in his teens, adopting an Anglicized version of the family surname, Kaplan, along the way; his mother, Sarah Mittenthal, arrived in the United States as a young girl and grew up in the American Midwest and Texas before settling in New York in 1881. After their marriage, the Coplands lived above their successful Brooklyn department store; Aaron later credited his business savvy to his experience helping to run the store. The youngest of five children, he was especially close to his sister Laurine, who introduced him to ragtime and opera, and taught him to play the piano. At about the age of seven, he began to make up tunes at the piano, and by about the age of 12 was notating short pieces. He received his first formal piano lessons (...

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