#4 – Aaron Copland – Movement 7 from “Appalachian Spring”

The next entry in my “Influential Works” series comes from Aaron Copland, a composer who was born in Brooklyn and lived from November 14, 1900, to December 2, 1990. Although many think of him as the quintessential “American” composer, with his broad, long music evoking the open spaces of the Western frontier (a position further supported by the materials he worked with and set to music, i.e., American folk songs, the story of Billy the Kid, etc.), he was actually educated in Europe. Practically, this means that he is very concerned with counterpoint, that is, the motion and interaction of two notes played simultaneously against each other. This makes him very similar to some other musical heroes of mine, including Samuel Barber, who himself has been featured in this series. Try to liste ton how the multiple voices (i.e., instruments) move in this way in the 7th movement from “Appalachian Spring”, a very famous ballet work that he reworked into a completely instrumental piece. You might recognize the tune as the one with the lyrics of “Lord of the Dance.” The whole Appalachian Spring piece is one of my favorites, but none of the other movements can top the triumphant feeling of this piece. Trace the passing of the melody from one group of instruments to another: from winds, to brass, and finally to the low strings. If you like this piece, I strongly encourage you to check out his “Billy The Kid” ballet. It’s written in much the same style. As always, the The Appalachian Spring Wiki Page. Click the link below to hear the movement. Enjoy!

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