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Martha Graham
Martha Graham
(Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten collection, XI SS 4)

star "The first thing I said to her when I came down to the rehearsal here in Washington was, 'Martha, whatdya call the ballet?' She said, 'Appalachian Spring.' 'Oh,' I said, 'What a nice name. Where'd'ya get it?' She said, 'It's the title of a poem by Hart Crane.' 'Oh,' I said, 'Does the poem have anything to do with the ballet?' She said, 'No, I just like the title and I took it.' And over and over again, nowadays people come up to me after seeing the ballet on stage and say, 'Mr. Copland, when I see that ballet and when I hear your music I can just see the Appalachians and just feel spring.' I've begun to see the Appalachians myself a little bit."

Copland often told this anecdote to audiences; when he told it right, he could get a laugh after every line.

star "I think that my music, even when it sounds tragic, is a confirmation of life, of the importance of life. If there is a unifying core in it all, it is a sense of affirmation."

star"An artist can take his personal sadness or his fear or his anger or his joy and crystallize it, giving it a life of its own. Thus he is released from his emotion as others cannot be. The arts offer the opportunity to do something that cannot be done anywhere else. It is the only place one can express on public the feelings ordinarily regarded as private. It is the place where a man or a woman can be completely honest, where we can say whatever is in out hearts or minds, where we never need to hide from ourselves or from others."

star "The composer . . . confronted with the question of inspiration, does not say to himself: 'Do I feel inspired?' He says to himself: "Do I feel like composing today?' And if he feels like composing, he does. It is more or less like saying to yourself: "Do I feel sleepy?" If you feel sleepy, you go to sleep. . . . . It's as simple as that."

star From What to Listen for in Music, Copland's assessment of contemporary composers - 1936 vintage - and their comparative "difficulty":

"The dodecaphonic school for Schoenberg is the hardest nut to crack, even for musicians. For the later Stravinsky you need a love of style, precision, personality; for Milhaud and Chavez a test for sharply seasoned sonorities. Hindemith and Piston demand a contrapuntal ear; Poulenc and Thomson a witty intelligence; and Villa-Lobos a feeling for the lushly colorful.

Very easy: Shostakovich and Khachaturian, Francis Poulenc and Erik Satie, early Stravinsky and Schoenberg, Virgil Thomson.

Quite approachable: Prokofieff, Villa-Lobos, Ernest Bloch, Roy Harris, William Walton, Malipiero, Britten.

Fairly difficult: Late Stravinsky, Bela Bartok, Milhaud, Chavez, William Schuman, Honegger, Hindemith, Walter Piston.

Very tough: Middle and late Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Varese, Dallapiccola, Krenek, Roger Sessions, sometimes Charles Ives."

star "Life seems so transitory! It is very attractive to set down some sort of permanent statement about the way we feel, so that when it's all gone, people will be able to go to our art works to see what it was like to be alive in our time and place - twentieth-century America."

star "I number myself among the more critical of Mozart admirers, for I distinguish in my mind between the merely workaday beautiful and the uniquely beautiful among his works. . . . Mozart … tapped once again the source from which all music flows, expressing himself with a spontaneity and refinement and breath-taking rightness that has never since been duplicated."

star "A great symphony is like a man-made Mississippi down which we irresistibly flow from the instant of our leave-taking to a long foreseen destination."

star "Film music is like a small lamp that you place below the screen to warm it."

star "I have never known a public concert of a variegated make-up that wasn't enlivened by ten minutes of controversial music. Even those who are sure to hate it are given something to talk about."

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