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American Music Month and Aaron Copland, Exploring Music in November 2020

Aaron Copland, American music

For some classical music lovers, all you have to say is American music, and the next words are Aaron Copland.  Bill McGlaughlin explores the America represented in Copland's music, the week of November 9th.

Week of November 2, 2020 - An Intelligent Conversation: The String Quartet

Goethe once wrote, “When I listen to a string quartet, it makes me feel as if I am eavesdropping on a conversation between four intelligent people.” This week we are going to listen to string quartets composed over a period of about two and a half centuries, from Joseph Haydn, the father of the string quartet, to Aaron Jay Kernis, a Pulitzer prize-winning present-day composer.

Week of November 9, 2020 - Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

For some, Copland conjures images of covered wagons and endless frontiers.  For others, he evokes Olympic athletes, astronauts, and fallen heroes.  From waves of grain to stars and stripes, Copland defined the soundtrack to everything American.  This week, we’ll trace his trek from the heart of Brooklyn to the heart of a nation.  Featured works include Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, and Copland himself conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in Our Town.

Week of November 16, 2020 - Les Cinq Plus

This week’s theme: French composers from the generation before Les Six (Poulenc, Milhaud, Honegger, et al), and we are fondly calling our composers Les Cinq Plus. Like Les Six, our composers did not have a great deal in common, and the way they have been grouped is a historical accident — artists who happened to inhabit a particular locale at a given time. Unlike Les Six, Les Cinq Plus grew up listening to the art songs of the 1800s, and each in their way carried this romantic torch forward: Chabrier, Massenet, Duparc, Chausson, Dukas, and perhaps Satie as “L’Autre.”

Week of November 23, 2020 - American Masters, Part IV

From the east coast to the west, American composers developed a singular identity in the 20th century that continues to energize and influence classical music. This week is dedicated to less popular American composers like John Alden Carpenter, Marion Bauer, and Randall Thompson. Bill investigates their family history, what drove them to compose, and what artistic journey they went on to expand music during their time.

Week of November 30, 2020 -  The Violin Concerto 
There is a saying in much of eastern Europe, “Every child is born with a violin under their pillow”. Parents dream of their child becoming a great violinist, not a doctor or a lawyer as so many do in America. Most composers have written at least one violin concerto hoping to challenge the soloist while creating a work of beauty. We will listen to many of today’s most popular concertos by Beethoven, Mozart, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky, and to Bill tell the stories of some concerts that were originally rejected by the soloists as being technically unplayable.