Aaron Copland’s Emblems: An Iconic Composer and His Misunderstood Masterwork
Copland was an iconic American composer whose sound is instantly recognizable worldwide. This article presents the principal characteristics that define the composer’s sound and compositional style and applies those to his only original masterwork for wind band: Emblems.This work was initially misunderstood and rejected with claims that it did not reflect the composer’s popular style. However, Emblemsis stylistically consistent with the music he was composing in the 1960’s and the work has, over decades, been embraced as a cornerstone work in the wind band repertoire. Suggestions for an authentic performance of Emblems are discussed informed by the composer’s own insights.
Berger, Arthur V. 1945. “The Music of Aaron Copland.” The Musical Quarterly 31 (4): 420-47.
Case, Nelly Maude. 1984. “Stylistic Coherency in the Piano Works of Aaron Copland.”Ph.D. diss., Boston University.
Chase, Gilbert. 1987. America’s Music: From the Pilgrims to the Present. Rev. 3rd ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Copland, Aaron. 1965. Emblems. London and New York: Boosey & Hawkes.
—. 1952. Music and Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
—, 1968. The New Music, 1900-1960. New York: W. W. Norton.
—, and Vivian Perlis. 1989. Copland Since 1943. New York: St Marin’s Press.
Crofton, Ian, and Donald Fraser. 1985. A Dictionary of Musical Quotations. New York: Schirmer Books.
Hilliard, Quincy Charles.1984. “A Theoretical Analysis of the Symphonies of Aaron Copland.” Ph.D. diss., University of Florida.
Hubbs, Nadine. 2004. The Queer Composition of America’s Sound: Gay Modernists, American Music, and National Identity. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press.
Kleppinger, Stanley V. 2003. “On the Influence of Jazz Rhythm in the Music of Aaron Copland.” American Music 21, (1 ): 74-111. doi:10.2307/3250557.
Knowlton, Don. “The Anatomy of Jazz,” Harper’s 154 (April 1926): 578-85.
Parker, Robert L. 1987. “Copland and Chavez: Brothers-in-Arms.” American Music 5, (4): 433-44. https://doi.org/10.2307/3051451.
Sherry, Michael S. 2007. Gay Artists in Modern American Culture: An Imagined Conspiracy. Chapel Hill: University of North Caroline Press.
Towner, Clifford N. 2001. “An Evaluation of Compositions for Wind Band According to Specific Criteria of Serious Artistic Merit: A Second Update.” D.M.A. diss., University of Nebraska.