In the midst of World War II, a collaboration between choreographer Martha Graham and composer Aaron Copland gave birth to an enduring American classic. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston hears Appalachian Spring in a new way.
Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, performed by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Stephen Gunzenhauser conducting, is featured on CD 3 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.
Aaron Copland is considered by many to be the dean of American composers. One may argue that he created a “sound” that embodies the spirit of the American dream—a vision of a vast and different country where immigrants came to settle and build a life in a new world. This work celebrates the Appalachian mountain regions—the lowlands of the Lebanon, Cumberland, East Tennessee, and Shenandoah valleys.
A single clarinet opens the work with a simple melody and is joined by flute and strings signaling the beauty and simplicity of nature and the earth’s awakening from a harsh winter to a glorious spring. A brash orchestral segment initiates the feeling of “country music” and the simplicity once again of the melodies brought by the immigrants from their native English, Scottish, and German backgrounds.
The highlight of the work is the Shaker melody “’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,” undoubtedly the cornerstone of the piece as it is developed and enlarged in all its glory. Written as a ballet for the great Martha Graham in 1944, it won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1945.
This month's broadcast concert ofThe Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphiaspotlights the ensemble's string section with two marvelous works: John Williams' Essay for Strings, and Ottorino Respighi's Aria for Strings.
Music Director Dirk Brossé will also lead performance of two Aaron Copland favorites, Quiet City, and Appalachian Spring.
Dave Conant is host. Sunday, August 18, 5 to 6 pm on WRTI.
Aaron Copland is considered one of America's greatest composers. Among his most famous works is a tribute to an iconic figure in American history. In 1942, Copland wrote A Lincoln Portrait, which features a full orchestra playing while a narrator reads excerpts from Lincoln's speeches and other writings.