Almanac: Aaron Copland

On December 2, 1990, acclaimed American composer Aaron Copland - a most un-common man - died at the age of 90.

CBS News

On December 2, 1990, composer Aaron Copland died at the age of 90.

Born in Brooklyn to Polish and Lithuanian immigrant parents, Copland left for France to study piano at age 21, and returned to America with a sense of mission, as he told "Sunday Morning" in 1985:

aaron-copland-conducts-promo.jpg
Composer Aaron Copland conducts. CBS News

"It became my preoccupation in the '20s and '30s to write a concert music that anyone could recognize [as] having been written by an American," he said.

It was a mission he more than accomplished in the nearly 70 years that followed.

He transformed the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts" into a rousing portion of his ballet, "Appalachian Spring." 

[It later became the theme for the documentary series "CBS Reports."]

Appalachian Spring by New York Philharmonic - Topic on YouTube

And he gave musical voice to his love of country in his anthem, "Fanfare for the Common Man."

Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland - Topic on YouTube

Today, the works of Aaron Copland – that most un-common man – are celebrated at Copland House, his former home north of New York City, now a center for music with its own resident ensemble, who joined "Sunday Morning" to perform Copland's own piano and violin arrangement of the "Hoe Down" section of the ballet "Rodeo."  

       
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Story produced by Justin Hayter.