Aaron Copland
American composer
Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland was an American 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".
Biography
Aaron Copland's personal information overview.
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Bay Area arts picks, Aug. 25 - San Francisco Chronicle
Google News - over 5 years
San Francisco Lyric Chorus: Artistic Director Robert Train Adams leads an Old Testament-themed program with music by Aaron Copland and Randall Thompson as well as spirituals. 7 pm Sat. St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell St., SF 5 pm Sun
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Opera Grows in Brooklyn Comes To Galapagos 9/18 - Broadway World
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Raymond J. Lustig is the recipient of the American Academy of Arts Letters' prestigious Charles Ives Fel-lowship, ASCAP's Rudolf Nissim Prize, the Aaron Copland Award from Copland House, the Juilliard Orchestra competition, and the New Juilliard
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Slouching toward Pops events - Schenectady Gazette (blog)
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Film Night has become special among Pops concerts, even though conductor laureate John Williams -- who just donated a bust of Aaron Copland to Tanglewood, and was described in print as a "titan" -- uses them as infomercials for his own work
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Sept. 11 events planned in Morris area - Dailyrecord.com
Google News - over 5 years
11, highlighting Dvorak's “New World Symphony,” Irving Berlin's “God Bless America” and Aaron Copland's “Fanfare to the Common Man.” The concert is part of the “Musica Morristown!” series and is scheduled to begin at 5 pm at Dolan Performance Hall at
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Freedom rings at Longwood - Delaware County Daily Times
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The concert includes two pieces written by Aaron Copland during World War II, including his stirring “Fanfare for the Common Man” and his “Lincoln Portrait,” based on the letters and speeches of Abraham Lincoln. The two choruses will join the
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Musical Titan Honors His Heroes - New York Times
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From left, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Serge Koussevitzky, the longtime music director of the Boston Symphony, who founded the music festival in 1937. IT is not uncommon during the summers here to see John Williams, the celebrated film
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Prom 43: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/ Litton, Royal Albert Hall - The Independent
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He – or rather we – were there in great numbers and if on paper one wondered how Aaron Copland's celebrated Fanfare might relate to Arnold Bax's Second Symphony, in the hall the muted fanfares emerging from the primordial opening bars of the Bax became
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Reviews of JD Souther, Aaron Copland and Joan Enric Lluna - News Shopper
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THE name of John David Souther may not mean too much to the average record-buyer these days, but this gifted singer-songwriter has had a hand in penning numerous country-rock classics over the years, including a string of hits for his
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Review: Sommerfest additions waltz right in and make a splash - Pioneer Press
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In style, it wasn't far from the folk-classical combinations created by American fiddler Mark O'Connor, albeit with a Nordic lilt and a dash of Aaron Copland in the orchestration. Hemsing made the voice of her nine-stringed cousin of the violin a
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Cookeville Band Will Perform Monday Evening - UC Daily News
Google News - over 5 years
Clare Grundman's “A Copland Tribute” is a collage of passages from works of Aaron Copland, considered by many the “dean of American music.” Created in 1985 to honor Copland's 85th birthday, it includes passages from “Fanfare for the Common Man,”
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Tanglewood Music Center students show style and form - Berkshire Eagle
Google News - over 5 years
Or would you prefer an excursion to the Wild West with Aaron Copland? The Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra opened its season Tuesday night by voyaging back to urban and rural America in the 1940s. Barber's Second Essay for Orchestra and Bernstein's
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All-American Morning Glories - Minnesota Public Radio
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What fun to start off with a super well-known piece: Aaron Copland's Rodeo, a story of a young cow-girl trying to catch the head wrangler's eye, only to be laughed at when she falls off a horse. But this tough gal cleans up well and shows up at the
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Concert Review | Patriotic Pops: Symphony, guests make patriotism pop - Columbus Dispatch
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Old-timer George Chadwick rubbed shoulders with movie mega-hitter John Williams and two of American music's top 10, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. Bernstein's numbers from the musical On the Town followed Copland's The Red Pony like day follows
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Copland sculpture to greet Tanglewood's 2011 season - Boston Globe
Google News - over 5 years
And yet a sense of history is everywhere, even in the names that adorn its structures: the Koussevitzky Music Shed, Ozawa Hall, the Leonard Bernstein Pavilion, the Aaron Copland Library. The past is always present, everywhere you walk
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Music in the Mountains celebrates 30th birthday at 'Happy Birthday USA' concert - The Union of Grass Valley
Google News - over 5 years
NPR's Donna Apidone will also be on hand to narrate Aaron Copland's “Lincoln Portrait.” The patriotic music program, presented by the Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra and Chorale under the direction of Gregory Vajda, artistic director,
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Copland sculpture to be unveiled at Tanglewood - Boston Herald
Google News - over 5 years
By AP LENOX — A sculpture of composer Aaron Copland will be unveiled at Tanglewood. His is the first in a series of sculptures of Tanglewood's most iconic music figures planned for permanent display on the grounds. The sculpture by New England artist
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Aaron Copland
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1990
    Age 89
    Copland's health deteriorated through the 1980s, and he died of Alzheimer's disease and respiratory failure on December 2, 1990, in North Tarrytown, New York (now Sleepy Hollow).
    More Details Hide Details Much of his large estate was bequeathed to the creation of the Aaron Copland Fund for Composers, which bestows over $600,000 per year to performing groups. Copland never enrolled as a member of any political party. Nevertheless, he inherited a considerable interest in civic and world events from his father. His views were generally progressive and he had strong ties with numerous colleagues and friends in the Popular Front, including Odets. Early in his life, Copland developed, in Pollack's words, "a deep admiration for the works of Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser and Upton Sinclair, all socialists whose novels passionately excoriated capitalism's physical and emotional toll on the average man." Even after the McCarthy hearings, he remained a committed opponent of militarism and the Cold War, which he regarded as having been instigated by the United States. He condemned it as "almost worse for art than the real thing". Throw the artist "into a mood of suspicion, ill-will, and dread that typifies the cold war attitude and he'll create nothing".
  • 1969
    Age 68
    He provided few written details about his private life and even after the Stonewall riots of 1969 showed no inclination to "come out."
    More Details Hide Details However, he was one of the few composers of his stature to live openly and travel with his intimates. They tended to be talented, younger men involved in the arts, and the age-gap between them and the composer widened as he grew older. Most became enduring friends after a few years and, in Pollack's words, "remained a primary source of companionship." Among Copland's love affairs were ones with photographer Victor Kraft, artist Alvin Ross, pianist Paul Moor, dancer Erik Johns, composer John Brodbin Kennedy, and painter Prentiss Taylor. Victor Kraft became a constant in Copland's life, though their romance might have ended by 1944. Originally a violin prodigy when the composer met him in 1932, Kraft gave up music to pursue a career in photography, in part due to Copland's urging. Kraft would leave and re-enter Copland's life, often bringing much stress with him as his behavior became increasingly erratic, sometimes confrontational. Kraft fathered a child to whom Copland later provided financial security, through a bequest from his estate.
    These articles would appear in 1969 as the book Copland on Music.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 1960
    Age 59
    From 1960 to his death, Copland resided at Cortlandt Manor, New York.
    More Details Hide Details Known as Rock Hill, his home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 and further designated a National Historic Landmark in 2008.
    In 1960, RCA Victor released Copland's recordings with the Boston Symphony Orchestra of the orchestral suites from Appalachian Spring and The Tender Land; these recordings were later reissued on CD, as were most of Copland's Columbia recordings (by Sony).
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  • 1957
    Age 56
    In 1957, 1958, and 1976, Copland was the Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival, a classical and contemporary music festival in Ojai, California.
    More Details Hide Details For the occasion of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Centennial, Copland composed Ceremonial Fanfare For Brass Ensemble to accompany the exhibition "Masterpieces Of Fifty Centuries." Leonard Bernstein, Walter Piston, William Schuman, and Virgil Thomson also composed pieces for the Museum's Centennial exhibitions. From the 1960s, Copland turned increasingly to conducting. Though not enamored with the prospect, he found himself without new ideas for composition, saying, "It was exactly as if someone had simply turned off a faucet." He became a frequent guest conductor in the United States and the United Kingdom and made a series of recordings of his music, primarily for Columbia Records.
  • 1954
    Age 53
    As Copland feared, critics found the libretto to be weak when the opera premiered in 1954.
    More Details Hide Details In spite of its flaws, the opera became one of the few American operas to enter the standard repertory.
    He decried the lack of artistic freedom in the Soviet Union, and in his 1954 Norton lecture he asserted that loss of freedom under Soviet Communism deprived artists of "the immemorial right of the artist to be wrong."
    More Details Hide Details He began to vote Democratic, first for Stevenson and then for Kennedy. Potentially more damaging for Copland was a sea-change in artistic tastes, away from the Populist mores that infused his work of the 1930s and 40s. Beginning in the 1940s, intellectuals assailed Popular Front culture, to which Copland's music was linked, and labeled it, in Dickstein's words, as "hopelessly middlebrow, a dumbing-down of art into toothlesss entertainment." They often linked their disdain for Populist art with technology, new media and mass audiences—in other words, the areas of radio, television and motion pictures, for which Copland either had or soon would write music, as well as his popular ballets. While these attacks actually began at the end of the 1930s with the writings of Clement Greenberg and Dwight Macdonald for Partisan Review, they were based in anti-Stalinist politics and would accelerate in the decades following World War Two.
  • 1953
    Age 52
    He was included on an FBI list of 151 artists thought to have Communist associations and found himself blacklisted, with A Lincoln Portrait withdrawn from the 1953 inaugural concert for President Eisenhower.
    More Details Hide Details Called later that year to a private hearing at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Copland was questioned by Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn about his lecturing abroad and his affiliations with various organizations and events. In the process, McCarthy and Cohn neglected completely Copland's works, which made a virtue of American values. Outraged by the accusations, many members of the musical community held up Copland's music as a banner of his patriotism. The investigations ceased in 1955 and were closed in 1975.
  • 1952
    Age 51
    In 1952, Copland received a commission from the League of Composers, funded by a grant from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, to write an opera for television.
    More Details Hide Details While Copland was aware of the potential pitfalls of that genre, which included weak libretti and demanding production values, he had also been thinking about writing an opera since the 1940s. Among the subjects he had considered were Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy and Frank Norris's McTeague He finally settled on James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which seemed appropriate for the more intimate setting of television and could also be used in the "college trade," with more schools mounting operas than they had before World War II. The resulting opera, The Tender Land was written in two acts but later expanded to three.
  • 1951
    Age 50
    During the 1951-52 academic year, Copland gave a series of lectures under the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship at Harvard University.
    More Details Hide Details These lectures were published as the book Music and Imagination.
  • FORTIES
  • 1950
    Age 49
    The McCarthy probes did not seriously affect Copland's career and international artistic reputation, taxing of his time, energy, and emotional state as they might have been. Nevertheless, beginning in 1950, Copland—who had been appalled at Stalin's persecution of Shostakovich and other artists—began resigning from participation in leftist groups.
    More Details Hide Details Copland, Pollack states, "stayed particularly concerned about the role of the artist in society."
    In 1950, Copland received a U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission scholarship to study in Rome, which he did the following year.
    More Details Hide Details Around this time, he also composed his Piano Quartet, adopting Schoenberg's twelve-tone method of composition, and Old American Songs (1950), the first set of which was premiered by Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten, the second by William Warfield.
  • 1949
    Age 48
    In 1949, Copland returned to Europe, where he found French composer Pierre Boulez dominating the group of post-war avant-garde composers there.
    More Details Hide Details He also met with proponents of twelve-tone technique, based on the works of Arnold Schoenberg, and found himself interested in adapting serial methods to his own musical voice.
  • 1944
    Age 43
    Composed in a two-year period from 1944 to 1946, it became Copland's best-known symphony.
    More Details Hide Details The Clarinet Concerto (1948), scored for solo clarinet, strings, harp, and piano, was a commission piece for bandleader and clarinetist Benny Goodman and a complement to Copland's earlier jazz-influenced work, the Piano Concerto (1926). His Four Piano Blues is an introspective composition with a jazz influence. Copland finished the 1940s with two film scores, one for William Wyler's The Heiress and one for the film adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel The Red Pony.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1939
    Age 38
    While these works and others like them that would follow were accepted by the listening public at large, detractors accused Copland of pandering to the masses. Music critic Paul Rosenfeld, for one, warned in 1939 that Copland was "standing in the fork in the highroad, the two branches of which lead respectively to popular and artistic success."
    More Details Hide Details Even some of the composer's friends, such as composer Arthur Berger, were confused about Copland's simpler style. One, composer David Diamond, went so far as to lecture Copland: "By having sold out to the mongrel commercialists half-way already, the danger is going to be wider for you, and I beg you dear Aaron, don't sell out entirely yet." Copland's response was that his writing as he did and in as many genres was his response to how the Depression had affected society, as well as to new media and the audiences made available by these new media. As he himself phrased it, "The composer who is frightened of losing his artistic integrity through contact with a mass audience is no longer aware of the meaning of the word art." The 1940s were arguably Copland's most productive years, and some of his works from this period would cement his worldwide fame. His ballet scores for Rodeo (1942) and Appalachian Spring (1944) were huge successes. His pieces Lincoln Portrait and Fanfare for the Common Man became patriotic standards. Also important was the Third Symphony.
    In 1939, Copland completed his first two Hollywood film scores, for Of Mice and Men and Our Town, and composed the radio score "John Henry", based on the folk ballad.
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  • 1936
    Age 35
    Because of his leftist views, which had included his support of the Communist Party USA ticket during the 1936 presidential election and his strong support of Progressive Party candidate Henry A. Wallace during the 1948 presidential election, Copland was investigated by the FBI during the Red scare of the 1950s.
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    During his initial visit to Mexico, Copland began composing the first of his signature works, El Salón México, which he completed in 1936.
    More Details Hide Details In it and The Second Hurricane, Copland began "experimenting," as he phrased it, with a simpler, more accessible style. This and other incidental commissions fulfilled the second goal of American Gebrauchsmusik, creating music of wide appeal. Concurrent with The Second Hurricane, Copland composed (for radio broadcast) "Prairie Journal" on a commission from the Columbia Broadcast System. This was one of his first pieces to convey the landscape of the American West. This emphasis on the frontier carried over to his ballet Billy the Kid (1939), which along with El Salón México became his first widespread public success. Copland's ballet music established him as an authentic composer of American music much as Stravinsky's ballet scores connected the composer with Russian music and came at an opportune time. He helped fill a vacuum for American choreographers to fill their dance repertory and tapped into an artistic groundswell, from the motion pictures of Busby Berkeley and Fred Astaire to the ballets of George Balanchine and Martha Graham, to both democratize and Americanize dance as an art form.
  • 1935
    Age 34
    Around 1935, perhaps motivated by the plight of children during the Depression, Copland began to compose musical pieces for young audiences, in accordance with the first goal of American Gebrauchsmusik.
    More Details Hide Details These works included piano pieces (The Young Pioneers) and an opera (The Second Hurricane). During the Depression years, Copland traveled extensively to Europe, Africa, and Mexico. He formed an important friendship with Mexican composer Carlos Chávez and would return often to Mexico for working vacations conducting engagements.
  • 1933
    Age 32
    By 1933... he began to find ways to make his starkly personal language accessible to a surprisingly large number of people.
    More Details Hide Details In many ways, this shift mirrored the German idea of Gebrauchsmusik ("music for use"), as composers sought to create music that could serve a utilitarian as well as artistic purpose. This approach encompassed two trends: first, music that students could easily learn, and second, music which would have wider appeal, such as incidental music for plays, movies, radio, etc. Toward this end, Copland provided musical advice and inspiration to The Group Theater, a company which also attracted Stella Adler, Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg. Philosophically an outgrowth of Steiglitz and his ideals, the Group focused on socially-relevant plays by the American authors. Through it and later his work in film, Copland met several major American playwrights, including Thornton Wilder, William Inge, Arthur Miller, and Edward Albee, and considered projects with all of them.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1927
    Age 26
    With the knowledge he had gained from his studies in Paris, Copland came into demand as a lecturer and writer on contemporary European classical music. From 1927 to 1930 and 1935 to 1938, he taught classes at The New School of Social Research in New York City.
    More Details Hide Details Eventually, his New School lectures would appear in the form of two books—What to Listen for in Music (1937, revised 1957) and Our New Music (1940, revised 1968 and retitled The New Music: 1900-1960). During this period, Copland also wrote regularly for The New York Times, The Musical Quarterly and a number of other journals.
  • 1925
    Age 24
    Copland lived frugally and survived financially with help from two $2,500 Guggenheim Fellowships in 1925 and 1926.
    More Details Hide Details Lecture-recitals, awards, appointments, and small commissions, plus some teaching, writing, and personal loans kept him afloat in the subsequent years through World War II. Also important, especially during the Depression, were wealthy patrons who underwrote performances, helped pay for publication of works and promoted musical events and composers. Among those mentors was Serge Koussevitzky, the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and known as a champion of "new music." Koussevitsky would prove to be influential in Copland's life, perhaps the second most important after Boulanger. Beginning with the Symphony for Organ and Orchestra (1924), Koussevitzky would perform more of Copland's music than that of any the composer's contemporaries, even while other conductors programmed only a few of Copland's works Soon after his return, Copland was exposed to the artistic circle of photographer Alfred Stieglitz. While Copland did not care for Steiglitz's domineering attitude, he admired his work and took to heart Steiglitz's conviction that American artists should reflect "the ideas of American Democracy." This deal influenced not just the composer but also a generation of artists and photographers, including Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Walker Evans. Evans' photographs inspired portions of Copland's opera The Tender Land.
  • 1921
    Age 20
    While Copland studied conducting in Paris in 1921, he remained essentially a self-taught conductor with a very personal style.
    More Details Hide Details Encouraged by Igor Stravinsky to master conducting and perhaps emboldened by Carlos Chavez's efforts in Mexico, he began to direct his own works on his international travels in the 1940s. By the 1950s, he was also conducting the works of other composers, and after a televised appearance where he directed the New York Philharmonic, Copland became in high demand. He placed a strong emphasis in his programs on 20th-century music and lesser-known composers, and until the 1970s rarely planned concerts to feature his music exclusively. Performers and audiences generally greeted his conducting appearances as positive opportunities to hear his music as the composer intended. His efforts on behalf of other composers could be penetrating but also uneven. Understated on the podium, Copland modeled his style after other composer/conductors such as Stravinsky and Paul Hindemith. Critics wrote of his precision and clarity before an orchestra. Observers noted that he had "none of the typical conductorial vanities". Copland's unpretentious charm was appreciated by professional musicians but some criticized his "unsteady" beat and "unexciting" interpretations. Koussevitzky advised him to "stay home and compose." However, while Bernstein (from whom Copland asked at times for conducting advice) occasionally joked that Copland could conduct his works "a little better," he also noted that Copland improved over time and considered him a more natural conductor than Stravinsky or Hindemith. Eventually, Copland recorded nearly all his orchestral works with himself conducting.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1917
    Age 16
    Goldmark, with whom Copland studied between 1917 and 1921, gave the young Copland a solid foundation, especially in the Germanic tradition.
    More Details Hide Details As Copland stated later: "This was a stroke of luck for me. I was spared the floundering that so many musicians have suffered through incompetent teaching." But Copland also commented that the maestro had "little sympathy for the advanced musical idioms of the day" and his "approved" composers ended with Richard Strauss. Copland's graduation piece from his studies with Goldmark was a three-movement piano sonata in a Romantic style. But he had also composed more original and daring pieces which he did not share with his teacher. In addition to regularly attending the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Symphony, where he heard the standard classical repertory, Copland continued his musical development through an expanding circle of musical friends. After graduating from high school, Copland played in dance bands. Continuing his musical education, he received further piano lessons from Victor Wittgenstein, who found his student to be "quiet, shy, well-mannered, and gracious in accepting criticism." Copland's fascination with the Russian Revolution and its promise for freeing the lower classes drew a rebuke from his father and uncles. In spite of that, in his early adult life Copland would develop friendships with people with socialist and communist leanings.
  • 1913
    Age 12
    From 1913 to 1917 he took piano lessons with Leopold Wolfsohn, who taught him the standard classical fare.
    More Details Hide Details Copland's first public music performance was at a Wanamaker's recital. By the age of 15, after attending a concert by composer-pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Copland decided to become a composer. After attempts to further his music study from a correspondence course, Copland took formal lessons in harmony, theory, and composition from Rubin Goldmark, a noted teacher and composer of American music (who had given George Gershwin three lessons).
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1900
    Born
    Aaron Copland was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 14, 1900.
    More Details Hide Details He was the youngest of five children in a Conservative Jewish family of Lithuanian origins. While emigrating from Russia to the United States, Copland's father, Harris Morris Copland, lived and worked in Scotland for two to three years to pay for his boat fare to the US. It was there that Copland's father may have Anglicized his surname "Kaplan" to "Copland," though Copland himself believed for many years that the change had been due to an Ellis Island immigration official when his father entered the country. Copland was however unaware until late in his life that the family name had been Kaplan, and his parents never told him this. Throughout his childhood, Copland and his family lived above his parents' Brooklyn shop, H.M. Copland's, at 628 Washington Avenue (which Aaron would later describe as "a kind of neighborhood Macy's"), on the corner of Dean Street and Washington Avenue, and most of the children helped out in the store. His father was a staunch Democrat. The family members were active in Congregation Baith Israel Anshei Emes, where Aaron celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. Not especially athletic, the sensitive young man became an avid reader and often read Horatio Alger stories on his front steps.
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