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Copland, Aaron (1900-1990)  
 
page: 1  2  

Despite this insult, only a decade later, in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Copland the Medal of Freedom for his contributions to American culture.

Unlike many gay men of his age, Copland was neither ashamed of nor tortured by his sexuality. He apparently understood and accepted it from an early age, and throughout his life was involved in relationships with other men. In later years, his affairs were mostly with younger men, usually musicians or artists, whom he mentored, including composer Leonard Bernstein, dancer and artist Erik Johns (who wrote the libretto for The Tender Land), photographer Victor Kraft, and music critic Paul Moor.

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Given the social prejudices of the times in which he lived, Copland was relatively open about his homosexuality, yet this seems not to have interfered with the acceptance of his music or with his status as a cultural figure. The likely explanation is that Copland conducted his personal life with the characteristic modesty, tactfulness, and serenity that marked his professional life as well.

In his later years, Copland was increasingly disabled with the advance of Alzheimer's disease. In spite of failing health, until his death at the age of ninety on December 2, 1990, he remained a participant in the advancement of American music and culture, not only as a composer but as a conductor, teacher, and author as well.

In the words of his recent biographer Howard Pollack, the accomplishments of this unlikely and unassuming cultural hero over the course of his long life made him truly an "Uncommon Man."

Patricia Juliana Smith

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   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  Ballet

The enduring and persistent connection between ballet and male homosexuality is undeniable and may be related to the art's remarkably masculine provenance.

arts >> Overview:  Conductors

In spite of the presence of many gay, lesbian, and bisexual figures in the field of classical music, it is difficult to identify more than a handful of self-identified, openly gay or lesbian conductors even in the early years of the twenty-first century.

arts >> Overview:  Music: Classical

Classical music is an important component of Western culture to which glbt people have contributed significantly.

arts >> Bernstein, Leonard

For most of his life, the specter of the closet lurked threateningly behind the glamorous and often brash public image of American composer Leonard Bernstein.

arts >> Boulanger, Nadia

Perhaps the greatest teacher of musical composition in the twentieth century, Nadia Boulanger greatly influenced modern classical music.

arts >> Del Tredici, David

Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer and pianist David Del Tredici, known for his famous "Alice" works and neo-Romantic style, has also written music concerned with gay experience.

arts >> Diamond, David

One of the leading American composers of the twentieth century, David Diamond created music that is melodic and lyrical even as it jumps with modern energy.

arts >> Kirstein, Lincoln

Although best known for his contributions to the development of American ballet, Lincoln Kirstein was an important figure in the shaping of twentieth-century American culture generally.

arts >> Rorem, Ned

American composer Ned Rorem is one of the most accomplished and prolific composers of art songs in the world, but his musical and literary endeavors extend far beyond this specialized field.


    Bibliography
   

Berger, Arthur V. Aaron Copland. New York: Da Capo Press, 1990

Butterworth, Neil. The Music of Aaron Copland. London: Toccata Press, 1986.

Copland, Aaron. The New Music, 1900-1960. New York: W. W. Norton, 1968.

Copland, Aaron, and Vivian Perlis. Copland: 1900 through 1942. New York: St. Martin's, 1984.

_____. Copland: since 1943. New York: St. Martin's, 1989.

Dobrin, Arnold. Aaron Copland: His Life and Times. New York: Crowell, 1967.

Peare, Catherine Owens. Aaron Copland: His Life. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969.

Pollack, Howard. Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man. New York: Henry Holt, 1999.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Smith, Patricia Juliana  
    Entry Title: Copland, Aaron  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated September 4, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/copland_a.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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