Aaron Copeland, Composer, Atlantic Classical Orchestra

Born November 14, 1900; New York, NY
Died December 2, 1990; Sleepy Hollow, NY
Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo


1942; 42 years old

Aaron Copland, renowned as the “Dean of American Composers,” left an indelible mark on the landscape of American classical music. His compositions, often characterized by open harmonies reflecting the vast American landscape, embody the pioneer spirit. Best known for his works in the 1930s and 1940s, Copland’s accessible and populist style produced iconic pieces such as the ballets Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, and Rodeo, along with the celebrated Fanfare for the Common Man and Third Symphony. Beyond orchestral works, Copland explored various genres, including chamber music, vocal works, opera, and film scores.

After studying in Paris with luminaries like Nadia Boulanger, Copland returned to the U.S. determined to establish himself as a full-time composer. Facing financial challenges during the Great Depression, he shifted to a more accessible musical style, drawing inspiration from the German concept of Gebrauchsmusik (“music for use”). Copland’s travels during the Depression years, his friendships with composers like Carlos Chávez, and exposure to new musical techniques, including twelve-tone methods, influenced the evolution of his signature style. In the 1960s, Copland’s focus shifted from composing to conducting, leaving a lasting legacy as a guest conductor, and recording artist, primarily with Columbia Records.