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starIn 1936-37, Copland gave a series of lectures on the basics of music at the New School in New York City. The lectures turned into a book, What to Listen for in Music.

There is nothing in the book that is adventurous, unorthodox, or "brilliant." All the same, it has been translated into at least six languages; it has never gone out of print and at this point it never will. The moral may be that there is a public hunger for basic music training, provided it comes from an accomplished and esteemed composer. (Calling Mr. Glass!)

The young Copland
The young Copland
star The young Copland worked indefatigably with other composers to advocate the cause of contemporary music-organizing concerts, publishing articles, serving on committees and organizations. His closest collaborators were Roger Sessions, Walter Piston, Roy Harris, and Virgil Thomson - Thomson called this group Copland's "commando unit."

star Copland was an enthusiastic traveler, especially to Mexico, which seems to have had an importance for him that went far beyond the recurrent Mexican and Latin-American strain in his music:

"As soon as we crossed the border I regretted leaving Mexico with a sharp pang. It took me three years in France to get as close a feeling to the country as I was able to get in three months in Mexico."

Copland's love of travel and sense of tact made him a perfect choice to represent American music abroad - something the State Department invited him to do more than once. Ironically, some of these trips came during the McCarthy years when another arm of the government was decrying Copland for being "unpatriotic."

star Copland took up conducting in later life, and it became a virtual second career for him. Why? Copland like to cite the advice of Minna Lederman, who told him, "Aaron, it is very important, as you get older, to engage in an activity that you didn't engage in when you were young, so that you are not continually in competition with yourself as a young man."

star In 1938, Copland was one of the founders of the Arrow Press, a music publishing company devoted to contemporary music. Among the composers published by the Arrow Press would be Charles Ives, Henry Cowell, Roger Sessions, Elliott Carter, and Copland himself.

star If you watched public TV ("educational TV") in the 60s, you got to see Copland as a TV host. He hosted, wrote,and conducted the music for a series called Music in the 20s, introducing television viewers to composers like Weill, Stravinsky, and Hindemith.

star Copland often appeared as conductor in his later years, but he also made some outings as a pianist.

star In 1959 he made up part of the all-star cast in a recording of Les Noces (The Wedding) by Stravinsky, one of the composers who influenced Copland the most. The "orchestra" in Les Noces consists of percussion plus a quartet of pianos, played in this recording by Copland, Roger Sessions, Lukas Foss and Samuel Barber, with Stravinsky conducting.

star Copland was a tireless talent-spotter and career-guider even when he wasn't working officially as a teacher. For example, he was one of the first to spot the young Conlon Nancarrow, on the basis of noticing two short piano pieces of his. (Nancarrow chose to work outside the musical mainstream - living in Mexico and composing for an ensemble of player pianos - and had to wait decades for recognition after Copland's initial words of praise.)

star For more than two decades, Copland taught composition at Tanglewood, with students such as Ned Rorem, Alberto Ginastera, Thea Musgrave, and David Del Tredici.

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