Aaron Copland was born 111 years ago yesterday “on a street in Brooklyn that can only be described as drab,” as he wrote in the first sentence of his autobiographical sketch, Composer from Brooklyn (published in the Winter, 1968 issue of ASCAP Today – I’m reading a copy directly from the Copland Collection here in the Performing Arts Reading Room!). Copland begins the sketch with his memories of the drab street where he lived the first two decades of his life because he was, in his own words, “filled with mild wonder each time [he] realize[d] that a musician was born on that street.”
Today’s Pic of the Week captures the composer as a six year-old boy, eight years before he would even start taking piano lessons. While music wasn’t entirely absent from the Copland home, no one else in his family seriously studied, played, or discussed music in a way Copland found satisfying. Luckily for us, the musical interest and ambition Copland developed as a teenager blossomed into the career of one of the 20th century’s most influential and noteworthy composers.