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Music for the Common Man: Aaron Copland during the Depression and War is the first sustained attempt to understand some of Copland's best known music in the context of leftwing social, political, and cultural currents of the Great Depression and Second World War. In the 1930s Aaron Copland began to write in an accessible style he called "imposed simplicity." Works like El Salon Mexico, Billy the Kid, Lincoln Portrait, and Appalachian Spring not only brought the composer unprecedented popular success but also came to define an American sound. Yet the political alignment behind this musical idiom-the social agenda that might be heard within these familiar pieces-has been largely overlooked, even though it has long been acknowledged that Copland subscribed to leftwing ideals. His politics never merely accorded with mainstream New Deal liberalism or wartime patriotism, however, but advanced a progressive vision of American society and culture. His music from the thirties and forties relates to the politics of radical progressivism, which affirmed a fundamental sensitivity toward those less fortunate, support of multiethnic pluralism, belief in social democracy, and faith that America's past could be put in service of a better future. Investing symbols of America-whether the West, folk song, patriotism, or the people-with progressive social ideals, Copland's music wrestles with the political complexities and cultural contradictions of the era.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780195383591
ISBN-10: 0195383591
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 155mm x 18mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 22-Jan-2009
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Elizabeth Bergman Crist

Elizabeth Bergman Crist is Assistant Professor of Music, Princeton University, and co-editor (with Wayne Shirley) of The Selected Correspondence of Aaron Copland (Yale, 2006).

Books By Author Elizabeth Bergman Crist

Music for the Common Man by Elizabeth Bergman Crist

Music for the Common Man

Hardback, November 2005