Today’s 15-Minute Music Lesson on Aaron Copland is an excerpt from the 20th Century Music Appreciation online course and is appropriate for all ages, K-12th! Head over to see the full lesson, as well as 35 other lessons of great composers and styles of the 20th Century.
Music Lesson on Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland (1900-1990) is one of the most famous American classical composers of the 20th century. He grew up and went to school in Brooklyn, New York. He later studied for four years in Paris under the famous composition teacher, Nadia Boulanger, as her first American student. He returned to America in 1924 to create true American music—and he did!
Copland wrote many compositions for ballets. He also wrote a number of film scores, including Of Mice and Men (1939), Our Town (1940), and The Red Pony (1948).
Enjoy listening to some of Aaron Copland’s music below
- Rodeo “Hoedown” (1942) Ballet. The story: A cowgirl is lonely. She goes to a Saturday night dance but wears cowboy pants. She is sad when she sees others dancing but no one wants to dance with her. She runs away crying but returns wearing a dress and a bow in her hair. Now she is noticed. Head Wrangler and Champion Roper both try to win her, but she chooses Roper since he had been friendly to her before.
- Appalachian Spring (1944) This ballet won a Pulitzer Prize for Music Composition in 1945. It has the old Shaker melody “Simple Gifts” in it.
- Fanfare for the Common Man is used as the Olympics theme music.
If you have extra time, listen to one more Aaron Copland selection.
- Lincoln Portrait (1942) Uses spoken excerpts of Lincoln’s writings along with folk tunes Lincoln might have heard during his day.
“So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will accompany and sustain it and give it expressive meaning.” –Aaron Copland
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