Things That I Love About America: the Music of Aaron Copland

During the Fourth of July I try to recount some of the things that I love about this country. One of the things that I love about this country is the music of Aaron Copland.

I learned about the music of Aaron Copland from my friends Jan and Don Lieberman. During the 1920s and 1930s, American artists and writers like Thomas Hart Benton, Zora Neal Hurston, Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, Woody Guthrie and others were looking to the folk tales, common songs, and the lived experiences of common people to forge a unique American art form. Copland was influenced by this artistic environment and he looked to incorporate folk music and jazz influences to create a unique American symphonic music.

Copland’s politics also had a strong influence in his attempts to create a music that elevated the common people. Copland was a progressive who supported the Popular Front, a coalition of liberal and socialist groups that were united in a common fight against the rise in fascism. Copland was a member of the left wing Group Theater and briefly participated in a music contest for the Workers’ Music League. He was a strong supporter of the 1948 presidential candidacy of Henry A. Wallace on the Progressive Party ticket.

Due to his leftist politics, Copland was investigated by the FBI during the Red Scare of the 1950s and found himself blacklisted. His composition “A Lincoln Portrait” was withdrawn from the 1953 inaugural concert for President Eisenhower, and his works were banned from performance at U.S. embassies and cultural sponsorship abroad. That same year, Copland was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

In this February 1, 1958 presentation, Leonard Bernstein, then the conductor of the NY Philharmonic, gives a small presentation on American music before introducing Aaron Copland to conduct his composition “Fanfare For The Common Man”.

About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Angelo Lopez has had illustrations published in Tikkun Magazine, the Palo Alto Daily News and Z Magazine. From April 2008 to May 2011, Angelo's cartoons were regularly published in the Tri-City Voice, a weekly newspaper that covers the Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Neward, Sunol and Union City areas in California. He did a political webcomic starring his cartoon character Jasper for the progressive blogsite Everyday Citizen. Since December 2011, Angelo does a regular weekly political cartoon for the Philippine News Today, a Filipino American newspaper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Angelo is a member of the Sunnyvale Art Club, and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. During the 1990s, he was a member of the part-timer workers SEIU unit in the city of Sunnyvale. Angelo won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 and 2018 Sigma Delta Chi award for editorial cartooning for newspapers with a circulation under 100,000. He has also won the 2016 RFK Book and Journalism Award for Editorial Cartoons. Angelo won first prize for the Best of the West contest in 2016 and third prize in 2017. Angelo is married to Lisa Reeber. They enjoy taking walks, watching movies and hanging out with their nieces.
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