- David Del Tredici, composer
Aaron Copland (1900-1990) was the most admired and beloved American composer of the 20th century. The son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, he was born and educated in Brooklyn. He lived in Paris in the early 1920s where he studied with the legendary Nadia Boulanger, teacher of many music luminaries such as Virgil Thompson, Walter Piston, Roy Harris, Astor Piazzolla, Daniel Barenboim, Dinu Lipatti, and Philip Glass.
Like other musicians of the period, Copland was initially influenced by jazz. But by the 1930s, he found his metier composing ballet and dance scores brimming with Western folk tunes such as Billy the Kid (1938), Rodeo (1942) and Appalachian Spring (1944) which are repertory favorites to this day. In 1951 Jerome Robbins choreographed his 1950 Clarinet Concerto as the ballet The Pied Piper. He also was a prolific composer of film scores, which include Of Mice and Men (1939), Our Town (1940), The City and The North Star (1943), The Red Pony (1949), and The Heiress (1949) which won an Academy Award.
Aaron Copland was the recipient of numerous other awards, such as: A Pulitzer Prize for Appalachian Spring, the Edward Macdowell Medal, the Handel Medallion of the City of New York, the Gold Medal for Music of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (America’s highest civilian honor), and the 1979 Kennedy Center Honors.
Copland died in Peekskill, NY in 1990 at the age of 90.