Era: 20th Century
Aaron Copland was an American composer known as the pioneer of American music having created what many think of as the "American sound." He was born in Brooklyn, New York to parents who had immigrated to America from Poland and Lithuania. He was a gifted pianist and desired to be a composer, so at age twenty, he set off to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger, a French composer, conductor, and teacher. His early works show the influence of jazz, though his later works are more strictly classical. He produced a series of ballets that depicted the sweeping landscapes of the American West and collaborated with modern choreographer Martha Graham on pieces such as Appalacian Spring. Copland lived a long and productive life spanning nearly a century, and worked not only as a composer, but as a conductor, pianist, teacher, author, and generous friend to musicians and music.