Last updated: July 15, 2019
Topic: ArtMusic
Sample donated:

Aaron Copland was born in November 14, 1900 and died in December 2, 1990. He was one of the greatest American classical composers today. Not only was he a composer, but he was also a composition teacher, writer, and conductor. Copland was best known for his American style of composition, which consisted of open, slowly changing harmonies. However, this American style of composition was not constant throughout his life. We see that Copland composed different style of music at different stages of his life.

His early works consisted of jazz, whereas his later works consisted of more serial technique; other genres he used was ballet, orchestral, chamber music, vocal works, opera, and film scores. Aaron Copland was most influenced to start music from his sister, Laurine, who gave him his first piano lessons, who promoted his musical education, and who supported him in his musical career. Copland’s musical career started at a very young age. He wrote his first opera scenario Zenatello at the age of 11, however Copland started to become interested in composing after attending a concert by composer-pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski at age 15.

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His interest of becoming a composer was then spurred on by having Rubin Goldmark, who was an American composer and Nadia Boulanger as teachers. These two mentors helped Copland achieve in becoming one of the greatest composers. El Salon Mexico, inspired by Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts, was written between 1932 and 1936 and is a symphonic composition in one movement. Copland intended for this work to gain a wide recognition and he succeeded. El Salon Mexico derived from Mexican folk tunes, with changing pitches and varying rhythms.

The refrain that appears in this work three times comes from the Mexican folk tune, El Palo Verde, in which Copland incorporated into El Salon Mexico. Many have said that El Salon Mexico consists of about 4 parts, but others also think that the transitions are smooth from one theme to the next. After writing El Salon Mexico, this use of Mexican folk tunes in a symphonic context became a pattern in most of his successful works in the 1970s. El Salon Mexico also marked the return of Copland’s jazz patterns in his compositional style.