November 14, 2000, marks the one hundredth birthday of the American
musical icon Aaron Copland. The new online Aaron Copland Collection
(http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/achtml/) created by the National Digital
Library Program in conjunction with the Library's Music Division, forms
part of the Library of Congressís homage to this distinguished American.
Copland devoted his life as a composer to creating, fostering,
developing, and establishing a distinctive "American" music. He became
known as the "Dean of American Music," a sobriquet with which he was
uncomfortable. His name is synonymous with his compositions Appalachian
Spring, which won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and Fanfare for the
The Aaron Copland Collection Web site includes approximately one
thousand items selected from Copland's correspondence, writings,
photographs, and complete sets of music sketches. These sketches
provide an overview of Copland's compositional process; he used them in
composing thirty-one works spanning the years 1924 to 1967 and covering
every medium in which he composed: orchestral, ballet, opera, film,
chamber, solo-piano, and vocal music.
The eight hundred items of correspondence in the online collection
include Copland's letters to his parents and other family members in the
1920s and 1930s, to his Parisian teacher Nadia Boulanger, to the
conductor Serge Koussevitzky, and to other notable figures in
twentieth-century music such as Nicolas Slonimsky, Roger Sessions,
Carlos Chavez, Walter Piston, Leonard Bernstein, and Benjamin Britten.
As an advocate and supporter of American music and American composers,
Copland frequently wrote articles, presented lectures, and delivered
speeches, and eighty-six of these are presented online as previously
unpublished drafts. They reveal the creative process through which he
wrote about his own music, other composers and their music, and other
people who played important roles in his musical life.
More than a hundred photographs are also represented in the online
collection, many created by Copland's friend Victor Kraft, a
professional photographer. They include portraits of Aaron Copland at
various ages and places, with family members, with other composers, and
with other people associated with his career as a composer and
conductor, as well as images from his worldwide travels.
The Aaron Copland Collection Web site also includes the following
Special Presentations: a time line of important events in Coplandís
life, an essay on Copland's music by Library staff member and noted
American music scholar Wayne Shirley, and several previously published
articles on Copland's life and work. In the future, the site will also
include the revised finding aid for the complete Aaron Copland
Copland extensively documented the many facets of his life in music.
The archival Aaron Copland Collection, housed in the Libraryís Music
Division, consists of approximately four hundred thousand items, dating
from 1910 to 1990 with a few nineteenth-century photographs, and includes
his music manuscripts, printed music, personal and business correspondence,
diaries and writings, photographic materials, awards, honorary degrees,
programs, and other biographical materials. It is the primary resource
for research on Aaron Copland and a major resource for the study of
musical life in twentieth-century America generally, particularly from
the 1920s to the 1960s.
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