What's New: Copland

Aug 10, 2016

Joyce DiDonato sings Copland on this episode from her 2005 debut solo album The Deepest Desire
Credit Bill Phelps

“There isn’t a great deal of Americana being written in serious terms nowadays." That is what Aaron Copland said. He said “The boys have gotten very interested in new kinds of harmonies suggested by the 12-tone method of Arnold Schoenberg.”

We’ll hear music from early and late in Aaron Copland’s career on today’s What’s New.


Aaron Copland
Credit Victor066

Copland's reputation as a “radical” was sealed in 1925, Walter Damrosch conducted the New York premiere of Aaron’s Symphony for Organ and Orchestra. After the performance, Damrosch turned to the audience and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, it seems evident that when the gifted young American who wrote this symphony can compose at the age of twenty-three a work like this one...it seems evident that in five years more he will be ready to commit murder!"

Copland's Sextet is the same composition as his Symphony Number Two, the “Short” Symphony. Copland was frustrated that his “Short Symphony was considered too difficult. By arranging it for sextet, he hoped it would get more performances. As Aaron predicted, the terrors of both versions have worn off for players as well as audiences. These days, the Sextet is highly admired and is considered to be one of Copland's finest accomplishments. Copland said, 'One learns to have patience.'"

What’s New is a production of WBAA Classical, a listener supported broadcast service of Purdue University.