Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" - with Eric Friesen

Aaron Copland composing in 1962.

Aaron Copland composing in 1962.

Listen

Aaron Copland was a city kid, a Brooklyn-born son of Jewish immigrants, yet he managed to write a piece of music that captured the essence of rural America and has become a classic.

As a young man, Copland roamed the streets of Paris and studied the classics with the legendary Nadia Boulanger, would go on to write music about cowboys, barn dances, outlaws and  -- 70 years ago -- his most enduring work, "Appalachian Spring". 

It was originally a commission for the great modern dancer Martha Graham.

In fact it was Graham herself who named it.

Forest_on_Baxter_Creek_Trail_in_Great_Smoky_Mountains_National_Park-200.jpg
(Miguel V)
Aaron Copland would often tell this story - explaining that people would come to him after a performance and say:

"Mr. Copland, when I see that ballet and when I hear your music, I can just see the Appalachians, and I just feel spring."

Copland would always reply, "You know, I've begun to see the Appalachians myself a little bit."

There is something undeniably fresh in Copland's composition. It evokes melting snow and the green grass pushing through the soil after a long winter

Eric Friesen has spent a lot of time thinking about this work. He's a former CBC host, broadcaster and writer.

He's hosted shows like "Studio Sparks", "In Performance", and "Onstage at Glenn Gould Studio" and has interviewed most of the world's leading musicians. 

Eric Friesen spoke with Michael in our Toronto studios.

Comments are closed.