STEVE EMBER: I'm Steve Ember.
BARBARA KLEIN: And I'm Barbara Klein with People in America in VOA Special English. Today we tell about Aaron Copland, one of America's best modern music composers.
STEVE EMBER: Aaron Copland wrote many kinds of music. He wrote music for the orchestra, piano, and voice. He wrote music for plays, movies and dance. Copland also was a conductor, pianist, speaker, teacher and author.
Music critics say Copland taught Americans about themselves through his music. He used parts of many old traditional American folk songs in his work. He was influenced to do this after studying music in France. He said that composers there had a very French way of ...view middle of the document...
This work was unusual because Copland used ideas from jazz music in his concerto.
BARBARA KLEIN: Copland later wrote the music for two ballets about the American West. One was about the life of a famous gunfighter called Billy the Kid. Copland used music from American cowboy songs in this work. This piece from "Billy the Kid: Ballet Suite" is called "Street in a Frontier Town."
STEVE EMBER: In nineteen forty-two, the conductor Andre Kostelanetz asked Copland to write music about a great American, Abraham Lincoln. Copland wrote "Lincoln Portrait" to honor America's sixteenth president. Copland's music included parts of American folk songs and songs popular during the American Civil War. He added words from President Lincoln's speeches and letters.
"A Lincoln Portrait" has been performed many times in America. Many famous people have done the speaking part. Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin Roosevelt, was one of them. Here, actor James Earl Jones performs in Copland's "A Lincoln Portrait."
BARBARA KLEIN: Also in nineteen forty-two, the music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra asked eighteen composers to write music expressing love for America. For the competition, Copland composed "Fanfare for the Common Man." This music is played in America during many national events, including some presidential inaugurations.
STEVE EMBER: Experts say "Fanfare for the Common Man" was an example of Copland's change in direction during the nineteen forties. He began writing music that was more easily understood and more popular. Copland wrote about this in nineteen forty-one in his book, "Our New Music." He wrote that a whole new public for music had developed as a result of the popularity of the radio and record player. He said that there was no reason to...