Image Donated by Corbis-Bettmann

Aaron Copland 1900-1990

One of the most celebrated classical composers of the twentieth century, Aaron Copland came to be known as "the dean of American composers." Born in Brooklyn to Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, Copland decided to become a composer at age 15. His early work was heavily influenced by jazz, but he later interwove folk themes into his classical compositions. Copland composed the scores for such films as Our Town (1940) and The Heiress (1949), which won the Academy Award for Best Music in 1950. In 1942 Copland composed the patriotic orchestral work, Lincoln Portrait, which included readings of Abraham Lincoln's letters and speeches. His score for Martha Graham's ballet Appalachian Spring (1944) won the Pulitzer Prize. Copland received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1987.