Monday, October 4, 2010

Sounds of America

Howard Pollack wrote a comprehensive biography of Aaron Copland, which was published in 1999.  Here is a link to the text.  I've long been a great fan of Copland's music, but never read that much about him.  Interesting to find out he was so actively political in his time.  But, it seems that ultimately Copland was most concerned with capturing America's musical pulse,

Although he came to artistic maturity in Paris, studying with Nadia Boulanger and informing his music with a European-derived professionalism, and although he made it his business to keep up with the latest European trends, Copland infused his music with specific traits that we think of as inherently American: jazzy rhythms, bold melodies, folk tunes, widely spaced sonorities, bright colors, collage structures -- all evoking the bustle of the city and the lonely openness of the plains. As his Argentine friend and colleague Alberto Ginastera wrote: ''Copland has created American music in the same way Stravinsky did Russian music, or Falla Spanish, or Bartok Hungarian.'' 

 John Rockwell, NYTimes 1999


  1. Thanks: Its not on the Kindle, so I'll try the library later this week.

  2. The link is to the text robert. You don't have to go to the libary.

  3. Very engaging book. I read the chapter 8: The Usable Past, and Pollack focuses almost exclusively on Copland's appreciation of jazz music, from the early recordings of Ellington to the "cool" sounds of Brubeck and Lenny Tristano. Copland first sensed jazz's unique American sound when he heard Arthur Briggs and a small group in Vienna. He had sampled more serious American music from the 19th and early 20th century, singling out Charles Ives as the most original.

    Copland felt jazz was limited, but had a spontaniety and vibrancy that he very much enjoyed. He composed quite a few pieces in the jazz style, but felt that doing too much with jazz made it lose its authenticity, and was critical of Gunther Schuller's Third Stream, preferring the work of Charles Mingus instead, which ironically Schuller consider the paragon of third stream music.

    No mention of any favorites in regard to rock music, other than to say he was taken up with it in 1967, acknowledging its broad appeal. No mention of Dylan. Probably regarded him as a songwriter, as he did Stephen Foster.

  4. I've lost trak of the discusssio, but I'll check in daily and try to pick up the thread. I mot very good with music as such...