A Great Composer

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Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness, or perhaps of subconsciousness—I wouldn’t know. But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness. Only one man could claim the title as probably the greatest composer in American history for writing so many unforgettable works: Aaron Copland. He lived a life inspired by many things as well as inspiring people all across the nation, and it really led to the opposite of being drawn into himself, as he described in the quote above. He was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 14 in 1900. He was the youngest of five children to Sarah and Harris Copland. A musical spark came out in Copland already at the age of 11 as he began piano lessons with his sister. His musical talents needed tutoring from a higher level of teaching and so he studied with a professional piano teacher, Ludwig Wolfsohn, at age 14. Copland said later, “No one ever connected music with my family. The idea was entirely original with me. And unfortunately the idea occurred to me seriously only at 13 or thereabouts—which is rather late for a musician to get started,” (Charles Moritz 190). He graduated in 1918 and was able to devote all his time to writing and composing music. Wanting to further his knowledge in music, he was taught harmony and counterpoint by Rubin Goldmark. Understandably, the two men shared different views and Goldmark completely disagreed with Copland’s styles, so to demonstrate his own stubbornness, Copland came back to Goldmark with a piece he wrote entitled “The Cat and The Mouse,” (Charles Moritz 191). Copland would then attend the newly established American Conservatory at Fontainebleau in Paris, and he was honored in being the first American student of the amazing teacher, Nadia Boulanger. After three years he returned to New York without any knowledge of how a composer got his works published or performed, nor how he planned on keeping himself financially stable. Copland ended his troubling when he was given a grant of from two Guggenheim Fellowships, and some women who found an interest in his compositions that gave him some donations so he could devote all his time to writing. His first major work upon returning to America was “Symphony for Organ and Orchestra” which he wrote just for the few performances of Nadia Boulanger; the first one in Carnegie Hall in 1925 and another in... ... middle of paper ... ...rs Alliance. He was continually given many awards, like an Academy Award nomination for film score of “North Star”, an Academy Award for best original musical score in “The Heiress”, the Pulitzer Prize in music, the New York Music Critics Circle Award for “Appalachian Spring”, the Gold Medal of the American Academy Institute of Arts and Letters, the MacDowell Colony Medal of Honor, winning the RCA Victor Composer’ Competition with “Dance Symphony”, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (America’s top civilian honor), the Kennedy Center Honors, the Congressional Medal of Honor, the National Medal of Arts (given to him by President Reagan), the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit from West Germany, the Howland Memorial Medal from Yale University, and the Department of Music at Queens College of the City University of New York was renamed Aaron Copland School of Music. After 1970, Copland continued lecturing and some conducting as he gradually stopped composing. He died at Phelps Memorial Hospital in Tarrytown, New York on December 2 after 90 years of musical genius and American glory. His ashes were scattered at Tanglewood, but the legend of Aaron Copland resides in us all forever.
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