Thursday, August 13, 2009

Aaron Copeland (for Aaron Copland)

Today's typo appears 41 times in OhioLINK (with the two words unlinked,14 times for "Aaron Copeland"), making it a typo of "moderate to high probability." Copland is the Anglicized version of Kaplan, which was the surname of Aaron Copland's father. At that time, America was both a land of opportunity and a land of coping for many Jewish immigrants. Although he was blessed with native talent, a musical mother, and four encouraging older siblings, all was not completely copacetic for Copland. He was fortunate to have studied under Rubin Goldmark, but later remarked that the teacher possessed "little sympathy for the advanced musical idioms of the day" and that his list of "approved" composers ended with Richard Strauss. Later, in Paris, he took lessons from Nadia Boulanger, despite the fact that "no one to my knowledge had ever before thought of studying with a woman." (Copland was Boulanger's first American pupil.) The young man apparently rejected such preemptive sexism and summed up the experience thusly: "This intellectual Amazon is not only professor at the Conservatoire, is not only familiar with all music from Bach to Stravinsky, but is prepared for anything worse in the way of dissonance. But make no mistake … A more charming womanly woman never lived." Aaron Copland, while regarded as shy, diffident, and private (in the way of all gays back in the olden days), had a full life and prodigious career. He often supported left-wing causes and was blacklisted in the fifties for having Communist sympathies. Ultimately, he became known as "the dean of American composers."

(Portrait of Aaron Copland, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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