Copland was referred to by his peers and critics as "the Dean of American Composers". The open, slowly changing harmonies in much of his music are typical of what many people consider to be the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit. He is best known for the works he wrote in the s and s in a deliberately accessible style often referred to as "populist" and which the composer labeled his "vernacular" style. In addition to his ballets and orchestral works, he produced music in many other genres, including chamber music, vocal works, opera and film scores. After some initial studies with composer Rubin Goldmark , Copland traveled to Paris, where he first studied with Isidor Philipp and Paul Vidal , then with noted pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. He studied three years with Boulanger, whose eclectic approach to music inspired his own broad taste. Determined upon his return to the U. However, he found that composing orchestral music in the modernist style, which he had adopted while studying abroad, was a financially contradictory approach, particularly in light of the Great Depression. He shifted in the mids to a more accessible musical style which mirrored the German idea of Gebrauchsmusik "music for use" , music that could serve utilitarian and artistic purposes.
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Suites, arrangements, or transcriptions are generally not included, except such works as the Sextet , Orchestral Variations , and Emily Dickinson Poems , which are widely known in these alternative versions. All Copland House programs depend on the annual tax-deductible contributions of individual, institutional, and corporate supporters around the country and the world. Become one of our Friends of Copland House. Donations at all levels are welcome, and we hope you will give as generously as you can.
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At a time when Europeans dominated the classical scene, Aaron Copland succeeded in establishing American music as a force to be reckoned with. Who was he? He single-handedly gave American classical music its own distinctive voice and popular appeal What are his most famous works? Until he burst onto the scene in the s, American classical music had struggled to find its own authentic voice. The iconoclastic genius Charles Ives had been the first to make the break, but despite his frequent use of indigenous American material, his no-holds-barred approach to composing was certainly not for the faint-hearted.