Aaron Copland: America's Greatest Composer

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Copland on Americanism Music of the twentieth century received a great amount of attention, acting as a voice that would reflect the wants and needs of a changing nation. Where words failed, music spoke, and as a powerful voice for socioeconomic and political spheres, composers drew attention to prevalent nationalistic styles coming out of their homeland. One of the most notable American composers of the early twentieth century was Aaron Copland. As a contender for “America’s Greatest Composer”, Copland strived to integrate various images of America into his music that would be understood in the minds of audiences around the globe. Copland was born in 1900 to a mother and father of Lithuanian decent, the mother of which grew up in the…show more content…
His fascination with this genre was mostly impart of its ability to make music sound uniquely American. When asked to comment on jazz as a generating force for his compositions, Copland remarked: “You see, I was very aware of how French the French music seemed in those days. And looking for an American idiom, naturally, it was a help to know that it had been created in a field that I considered light music. Very attractively the whole world recognized it as American, so it must 've been American.” He claimed he “began to consider that jazz rhythms might be the way to make an American-sounding music.” Copland had the ability to effortlessly make music sound as if stemming from a specific country, regardless of whether or not it was American. Copland felt impelled to stress his country of origin as well as his individual personality, something which had been greatly accomplished by many composers on the Romantic era. His composition Hear Ye! Hear Ye! that was previously mentioned, was distinctly American as it included dance music and jazz influences. It also included, but was not limited to, the use of quotations from the Mendelssohn Wedding March. Similarly, Copland was able to grasp and quickly adapt to styles unique to Latin America as he did in El Salón México. This composition was a product of his visit south of the American border. Copland initially had hesitations about visiting Mexico. When asked by Mexican composer Carlos Chavez to come to Mexico the first time, Copland responded by stating: “I had an important decision to make, indeed a crucial one at this time in my career: whether to take advantage of the tempting offers that were coming my way from abroad, or to stay in New York, furthering the causes of American music while continuing my own work.” It was to the extent that he composed a piece that would reflect that which

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