A candid and fascinating portrait of the American composer. The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Aaron Copland (1900-1990) became one of America's most beloved and esteemed composers. His work, which includes Fanfare for the Common Man, A Lincoln Portrait, and Appalachian Spring, has been honored by a huge following of devoted listeners. But the full richness of Copland's life and accomplishments has never, until now, been documented or understood. Howard Pollack's meticulously researched and engrossing biography explores the symphony of Copland's life: his childhood in Brooklyn; his homosexuality; Paris in the early 1920s; the Alfred Stieglitz circle; his experimentation with jazz; the communist witch trials; Hollywood in the forties; public disappointment with his later, intellectual work; and his struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, Pollack presents informed discussions of Copland's music, explaining and clarifying its newness and originality, its aesthetic and social aspects, its distinctive and enduring personality.
Definitive biography of Aaron Copland. Copious names, places & dates. Must have familiarity with 20th century art and music. A must read for Copland fans.
This comprehensive biography of George Gershwin (1898-1937) unravels the myths surrounding one of America's most celebrated composers and establishes the enduring value of his music. Pollack's lively narrative describes Gershwin's family, childhood, and education; his early career as a pianist; his friendships and romantic life; his relation to various musical trends; his writings on music; his working methods; and his tragic death at the age of 38.
A composer of enormous musical innovation and influence, Marc Blitzstein remains one of the most versatile and fascinating figures in the history of American music, his creative works running the gamut from operas, ballets, musicals, and film scores to orchestral works, chamber pieces, and artsongs. As an open homosexual and a prominent leftist, Blitzstein constantly pushed the boundaries of acceptability in mid-century America in both his music and his life. Award-winning music historian Howard Pollack's new biography is the first to put Blitzstein's music on equal footing with his politics, theatrical innovation, and other aspects of the composer's life. Pollack covers Blitzstein's life in full, from his childhood in Philadelphia to his violent deathin Martinique at age 58. The author describes how this student of contemporary luminaries Nadia Boulanger and Arnold Schoenberg became swept up in the stormy political atmosphere of the 1920s and 1930s and throughout his career walked the fine line between his formal training and his democraticprinciples. Indeed, Blitzstein developed a unique sound that drew on everything contemporary, from the high modernism of Stravinsky and Hindemith to blues, jazz, and musical comedy, and that profoundly influenced his younger friend Leonard Bernstein. Pollack captures the astonishing breadth ofBlitzstein's music - from politically controversial Broadway operas like The Cradle Will Rock and No for an Answer, to the patriotic Airborne Symphony, to such masterpieces as the opera Regina, to lesser known early pieces, film scores, and chamber works. A fearless artist, Blitzsteinadapted BertoltBrecht and Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera during the heyday of McCarthyism and the red scare, and with Weill's widow Lotte Lenya, turned it into an off-Broadway sensation. Beautifully written, drawing on new interviews with friends and family of the composer, and making extensive use of new archival and secondary sources, Marc Blitzstein presents the most complete biography of this quintessentially American composer.
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