Aaron Copland: The Life & Work of an Uncommon Man

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Henry Holt and Company, Sep 1, 2015 - Biography & Autobiography - 702 pages

A candid and fascinating portrait of the American composer.

The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Aaron Copland (1900-1990) became one of America's most beloved and esteemed composers. His work, which includes Fanfare for the Common Man, A Lincoln Portrait, and Appalachian Spring, has been honored by a huge following of devoted listeners.

But the full richness of Copland's life and accomplishments has never, until now, been documented or understood. Howard Pollack's meticulously researched and engrossing biography explores the symphony of Copland's life: his childhood in Brooklyn; his homosexuality; Paris in the early 1920s; the Alfred Stieglitz circle; his experimentation with jazz; the communist witch trials; Hollywood in the forties; public disappointment with his later, intellectual work; and his struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, Pollack presents informed discussions of Copland's music, explaining and clarifying its newness and originality, its aesthetic and social aspects, its distinctive and enduring personality.

"Not only a success in its own right, but a valuable model of what biography can and probably should be. " - Kirkus Reviews

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AARON COPLAND: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man

User Review  - Kirkus

A music historian's (Univ. of Houston) biography of the man who, despite sectarian assaults from the academy, is still regarded as America's greatest composer. Modern biographers appear to feel ... Read full review

Aaron Copland: the life and work of an uncommon man

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Pollack (music history, Univ. of Houston), the author of books on three other American composers, prepared for this large biography by investigating archives and interviewing many people who knew ... Read full review

Contents

1 A Copland Portrait
3
2 Background Matters
15
3 Early Education and First Works
30
4 Paris
45
5 Copland and the Music of Europe
57
6 From Sonata Movement to Grohg 192124
76
7 Return and Rediscovery
88
8 The Usable Past
107
19 Music for the Movies and for Keyboard 193941
336
20 From Lincoln Portrait to Danzόn Cubano 1942
357
21 From The North Star to Appalachian Spring 194344
378
22 From Jubilee Variation to Four Piano Blues 194548
407
23 From The Red Pony to the Piano Quartet 194850
428
24 The Changing Scene
451
25 From Old American Songs to the Piano Fantasy 195057
467
26 From Dance Panels to Connotations 195962
486

9 From the Organ Symphony to Vocalise 192428
121
10 From Vitebsk to the Piano Variations 192830
142
11 Copland Among His Peers
159
12 Copland and Younger American Composers
178
13 South of the Border
216
14 Personal Affairs
234
15 Copland and the American Theater
257
16 An Engaged Citizen
270
17 From the Short Symphony to A Prairie Journal 193337
288
18 From Billy the Kid to John Henry 193840
314
27 From Emblems to Proclamation 196482
503
28 Identity Issues
518
29 The Later Years
532
Conclusion
550
List of Works
557
Notes
564
Selected Bibliography
664
Index
671
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About the author (2015)

Howard Pollack is associate professor of music history and literature at the University of Houston. He has written four books on classical music and has served as music critic for the Houston Press, among other publications. He lives in Houston.

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