Monday, April 28, 2008

Copland in Hollywood

There is an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal about Aaron Copland's time in Hollywood.

From the story:

Copland's part-time career as a film composer is one of the most fascinating chapters in the story of his professional life. Yet few know much about it. Nowadays, of course, it's perfectly respectable for a serious musician to moonlight in Hollywood, and scholars pore over the scores of Bernard Herrmann and Erich Wolfgang Korngold the same way they once sifted through Beethoven's sketchbooks. But none of Copland's half-dozen Hollywood film scores, not even the Oscar-winning one he wrote for "The Heiress," has been recorded in its entirety.

Why has so important a part of Copland's output been so completely ignored? I haven't a clue.

I was enthralled with Copland's music in high school. I begged my band director at Capital High School (Olympia, WA) to play as much Copland and Leonard Bernstein as we could. And, we did. He wouldn't let us play "Fanfare for the Common Man" though. He said it was "too hard." RUBBISH! I'm going to play it! So I ordered the whole score from a music company and passed it around furtively to my band mates (trumpets, trombones, tubas). We practiced, furtively, away from the watchful eyes and tuned ears of our band director. Oh, we were so naughty! Oh, we were such enormous band geeks! We never played it for a public performance anywhere, though I wish we could have. We practiced enough to make us passable, anyway. Copland would have been proud, maybe. We were just, you know, passable. Ah well.

Copland's "Fanfare" as played by the U.S. Marine Band:

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