Dd Book Club DISCUSSION, Week 5: Copland's Nagging Question

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In Chapter 8 “Music for All” of The Rest is Noise, I found myself returning often back to page 293, in order to view Aaron Copland’s evolutions–from Brooklyn boy to young, brooding composer to political partisan to left leaning patriot to commander in chief of a “crack squad of young American composers” to American music icon–from his own perspective and framework. It is on this page Ross presents us with Copland’s nagging question:

“How does one deepen one’s experience of life. That is the problem that interests me deeply. Would serving as dish washer for a week help–or doing a term in prison? Or the Gurdjieff Method?”

Copland’s earnest search for meaning in life, art, and politics and his intense desire to connect with people and experiences beyond his own seems to me the best backdrop for his music. We can complete the circle by connecting with his music in the same way he sought to create it. It is easy to make a diorama out of FDR’s America; this chapter made me wish we could get back to some WPA style art projects to help get us through our current crises of faith and finance.

On one of his searches, Copland met Mexican composer Carlos Chavez. I was interested in hearing this influence and adding that into the set and props I have surrounding Copland in my head. You can hear part of La Noche de los Mayas below.


*What kinds of dreams or visions does the New Deal, Hollywood, and/or Exile Music discussed in these chapters engender for you?

(LISTENING NOTE: If you are finding youtube to be choppy or overwhelming, I have found a couple more tools for listening beyond the short clips on Ross’s audio guide. Spotify has two apps you can add (for free) Classify and Ulysses’ Classical. While they are by no means exhaustive, there are playlists for almost all the musicians and works we have been reading about (minus Carlos Chavez) and they both have multiple ways to search for music.)

Last week’s discussion can be found here. Previous weeks can be found by clicking here. (The next post will be on Chapters 9 and 10, but in the meantime feel free to email me topics for Ch 11, 12, 13. )




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