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  • Chris Anderson

Life In Aaron Copland’s Time

Aaron Copland (1900-1990) is our composer of the month. He was an influential American composer and conductor known for his distinctive contributions to 20th-century classical music, particularly in the realm of American music. Life during Copland's time, which spanned most of the 20th century, was marked by significant cultural, political, and social changes.


  • Early 20th Century (1900s-1920s):

    • Copland was born in 1900, a time when the United States was transitioning from the Gilded Age into the Progressive Era.

    • World War I (1914-1918) had a profound impact on society, introducing new technological advancements and changing the geopolitical landscape.

    • The Roaring Twenties brought about a period of cultural and social change, with the emergence of jazz, the Harlem Renaissance, and significant shifts in art and music.

  • Great Depression and New Deal Era (1930s):

    • The 1930s were marked by the Great Depression, which caused widespread economic hardship and unemployment.

    • Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs aimed to provide relief, recovery, and reform during this era.

    • Copland's compositions during this time, such as his populist pieces like "Appalachian Spring" and "Fanfare for the Common Man," reflected a desire to connect with everyday Americans through music.

  • World War II and Postwar Period (1940s-1950s):

    • World War II (1939-1945) had a significant impact on global events and culture. Copland composed music for the war effort.

    • The postwar years were characterised by the Cold War, the Red Scare, and McCarthyism, which affected various aspects of American life, including the arts.

    • Copland's music continued to evolve, incorporating elements of serialism and avant-garde styles in works like "Connotations."

  • Civil Rights and Counterculture (1960s):

    • The 1960s were marked by the Civil Rights Movement and the fight for racial equality.

    • Copland's compositions during this time reflected a mix of traditional and modern elements, as seen in his orchestral work "Inscape."

    • The 1960s also saw the emergence of the counterculture and a growing interest in experimentation and artistic freedom.

  • Later Years (1970s-1990):

    • Copland's later years were marked by continued experimentation and exploration in his music.

    • He received numerous awards and honours for his contributions to American music, and his compositions were widely performed around the world.

    • Copland passed away in 1990, leaving a lasting legacy as one of the most important American composers of the 20th century.


Throughout his life, Aaron Copland's music evolved to reflect the changing times and cultural shifts of the 20th century, making him a central figure in the development of American classical music.

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