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Aaron Copland Biography

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Genres: Classical/Opera

Aaron Copland (November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990) was an American classical composer, writer, and conductor of his own material and other American composers. Often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers,” he was instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition. While he had been writing significant work throughout the 1920’s, it was not until the late 1930’s that Copland became celebrated as a renowned composer. During this time he focused primarily on making compositions immediately more accessible to the average listener. This began with his work on the ballet “Billy the Kid”. Other popular ballet’s included “Appalachian Spring,” “Rodeo” and his “Fanfare for the Common Man,” intended as a national moral booster in 1942.

In the late 1930’s he began working in Hollywood and within a few short years received his first Academy Award nomination for his work on “Of Mice And Men.” He was nominated again in 1943 for his work on “The North Star” and finally won in 1949 for his score in William Wyler’s “The Heiress.”

Copland is perhaps remembered most for his work on the “Piano Fantasy” (1957) of which he worked on for seven years and received high critical praise upon its release. Other well known pieces include: "Something Wild" (1961, his last film score), "Night Thoughts" (1972) and his final piece of work "Proclamation’" (1982, of which he started in 1973). He died in Tarrytown, New York on December 2, 1990 and much of his estate went toward the Aaron Copland Fund for Composers to helps young performing groups.