Born November 14, 1900 in Brooklyn, NY
Died December 2, 1990 in Westchester, NY
Lincoln Portrait, Rodeo, Fanfare for the Common Man, Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, The Tender Land, Ching-a-ring-ching-chaw
Although he was probably one of the greatest American composers, Aaron Copland did not grow up in a musical family. His parents were Russian immigrants who never even went to a concert. After several attempts to obtain musical instruction including a correspondence course, he eventually went to a school in Europe where a young teacher named Nadia Boulanger influenced him to become a composer.
By his mid-twenties his work was known by other composers. Copland borrowed from American legends and folk music and incorporated them into his music. Such musical pieces include: Billy the Kid and Appalachian Spring, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize for music. He was one of the first composers to successfully incorporate jazz rhythms into symphonic music. He was very helpful and generous to other young composers, often promoting their music along with his own. Because Copland had a habit of composing at night with the help of his noisy piano, he had to move several times.
Interestingly, Copland actually conducted the Dallas Symphony Orchestra twice.