Monday, August 1, 2011

Aaron Copland - The Promise of Living (1954)

A haunting and romantic composition by one of America's greatest 20th Century composers.

from Wikipedia:

Aaron Copland (November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990) was an American classical composer, composition teacher, writer, and later in his career a conductor of his own and other American music. He was instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, and is often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers".[1] He is best known to the public for the works he wrote in the 1930s and 40s in a deliberately more accessible style than his earlier pieces, including the ballets Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, Rodeo and his Fanfare for the Common Man. The open, slowly changing harmonies of many of his works are archetypical of what many people consider to be the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit."


  1. Copland is the greatest 20th century American composer, in the same vein that Frank Lloyd Wright is our greatest architect....

  2. I agree Will.

    I wanted to say one of the greatest so as not to spark a debate and just let people enjoy the music. :-)

  3. Well, as long as we're discussing it - there's always Virgil Thomson, a Kansas native who wrote "The Plow That Broke the Plains" and my personal favorite of his, "The River" - both used hymn-music as thematics for the introductions.

    (The first three minutes of the first movement of "The River" were used as the main title for "The Day After" - perhaps the best TV movie ever made, and the only one made during the later Cold War to fully address the aftermath of a nuclear conflict. ABC made the film on its own dime - it was aired without advertisements. The video below features the music from 1:40-4:34, and is an excellent representation of Thomson's work:)

  4. You're right, Will. This music is so great and so evocative and distinctly "American" in away that's hard for me to describe.

    I remember this movie so well. I had to work the night it was first on but I had a friend tape it for me because he had a VCR and I couldn't afford one yet.

    Nowadays would it even get made? Probably not unless it was a Tom Selleck detective movie that happened ot have a nuclear war as a "red herring" (sorry) to draw Sheriff Jesse Stone away from solving the case with his deadpan and constipated aplomb.

    It might get made and shown on Showtime and have a tenth of the audience it had back then. Not as helpful.

    When I watched "The Day After" I remember feeling this film had more power than anything I had ever seen produced directly for television. There were other films about a nuclear war which came out that same time-the BBC did one that was broadcast on Ted Turner's Network--but this one was about Middle America and that made a difference. I hope they've put it out on DVD by now.

    If not the best television movie ever, it must have been at least be the best Steve Guttenberg movie ever, not counting "Police Academy I" of course. ;-)

    According to a review in a book called "The Reagan Diaries", the Gipper took time out from watching "Charlie's Angels" or whatever to watch this movie when it was telecast. It shook him to his core apparently. How fitting that a show-biz President who shunned reading his briefing books may have been nudged over to prevent rather than exaserbate a nuclear war with "the evil empire" thanks to a prime-time television presentation.

  5. It should be seen again by everyone. Thanks Will.

    "In Defense of Liberty"

  6. "The open, slowly changing harmonies of many of his works are archetypical of what many people consider to be the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit."

    There is a distinct "DNA" if you will, to Copland's music. I've always enjoyed it. I'd not thought until now, what a totally different American sound it is, from what America represents today. Sad.

  7. Very nice Doug and a nice change. I never knew of that man nor his works but the sound is tremendous and does give that merit of an America of which I believe in.
    And as an idealist here within time this shall as well as many more return within an America that is of that in which I believe in.

    Within Scales of Economies more than less in industralized democratic lands what goes down has always came back up. Yet with a little time.

  8. Copland beautifully romanticized this country in his music. It would be much more difficult to do so now.
    I think he expresses the land more than the people, although one must give them credit for their pioneer spirit.

    That idealized America was not one in which we took the land from the Indians, who are the only native Americans there are.

  9. Sig I understand what you mean - he was sort of like an Ansel Adams within classical music as you can feel that within the tonations. Thanks Sig.

  10. I cannot say any better than you posted. I agree with everything you typed

  11. How absolutely wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for posting.

  12. I think that's the closest anybody I have read has come to describe this type of music, Sigurd. Copland's most popular music is so subtle yet completely identifiable as his own.

  13. Ansel Adams is another great artist obviously. His work also is so distinct, magnificent, identifiable.