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Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)
Antonin Dvorak was born on September 8, 1841 near Praque in Nelahozeves, a village on the Moldau. Contrary to beliefs, he was not born in poverty. His father was an innkeeper, butcher, and amateur musician. Both of his parents were encouraging of his musical pursuits. Dvorak learned to play the violin, viola, piano, and organ. He then attended the Prague Organ School. At 18 years, he was now playing in dance bands as a violist. In 1862, Dvorak became a member of the National Theatre at Prague Orchestra. He also taught piano lessons, and married one of his students. He had five children, three sons and two daughters. Dvorak didn't become a composer until he was thirty-two years old. He composed music by studying the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, and Wagner. Many of his works resemble his natiz Czechoslavia region. On May 1, 1904, Antonin Dvorak fainted at the dinner table and never gained consciousness. His funeral drew in a very big crowd.
Dvorak may not have been from the United States, but during his visit to America during the 19th century, he composed his famous piece Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Opus 95 "From the New World." More commonly known as The New World Symphony, Antonin Dvorak wrote this symphony to give a musical voice to the black and Native American roots as part of American history after the Civil War.
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Aaron Copland was born in New York City on November 4, 1900. He began his studies of piano at a young age. He took lessons from composer Rubin Goldmark and began to compose himself. Copland's first piece was published in 1920 called, The Cat and the Mouse. In the same year, Copland entered the American Conservatory in Fontainbleau, near Paris, where he studied both composition and orchestra. He returned to New York City in 1924 and became an active pianist, lecturer, and activist in musical societies.
Some of Copland's widley known and praised works include El Salon Mexico, Billy the Kid, Rodeo, Appalachian Springs, Lincoln Portrait, and Fanfare for the Common Man, each of which contributed to his reputation of one of America's most honored composers.
Two notable ballets that connect Aaron Copeland to the Great Plains are Billy the Kid (1938), and Appalachian Springs (1942). Billy the Kid was designed to be a ballet based on the semi-fictional behaviors of the notorious outlaw. Billy appears as a quasi-mythical figure, a romanticized symbol of the passions and dangers of the Wild West. Copland frames the story with widely spaced harmonies that provide a vivid sense of the prairies openness and loneliness, and the large westward migration. Appalachian Springs "captures the essence of an ideal America, one of open fields and endless possibilities." Copeland unintentionally gave voice to the region and encapsulated the pastoral beauty of Appalachia. The music and dance were perfect together as they reflected the ambitions of the American heartland. Composer Robert Kapilow says this of the ballet, "You can hear the essence of the whole ballet in the opening chords. By improvising on simple tonal elements from these chords, Copland creates repeating patterns that are centered in the earth. Then after adding slight chord variations, Copland introduces a simple melody, decending like sunlight upon a pastoral scene. The effect is like a flowering at dawn, as Copland creates the perfect setting for the ballet’s primary characters, two young newlyweds on the western Pennsylvania frontier."
Copland's interests and accomplishments go beyond that of writing music. He published a series of books and lectures on music. He organized concerts and became a member on the board of directors for the League of Composers where he founded several musical organizations. Copland also became the head of the composition department at Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. He took up interest in conducting as this hidden talent was revealed, and also wrote nine film scores seven of which he received an Oscar Award. These include: The City, Of Mice and Men, Our Town, North Star, The Red Pony, Something Wild, and The Heiress.
A list of a few of his awards include: a Guggenheim Fellowship, several N.Y. Music Critics Circle Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Gold Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, honorary membership in the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Honorary doctorates from Princeton, Brandeis, Harvard, Temple, Rutgers, Ohio State, New York University, Columbia; in 1982 the Aaron Copland School of Music was inaugurated at Queens College, N.Y., and in 1986 he received the National Medal of Arts.
National Music Museum - Vermillion, South DakotaThe National Music Museum is 20,000 square feet of nine gallaries that collectively house 1,100 representative instruments. The facility is frequently used by scholars and students to conduct musical research. It was founded in 1973 and is located on the University of South Dakota campus in Vermillion, SD.
Among the National Music Museum's collections includes: two 18th century grand pianos; more than 500 instruments made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by C.G. Conn Company; brass, woodwind, and stringed instruments made by 17th and 18th century Nurnberg craftsmen; 17th and 18th century Dutch woodwind instruments; and the Witten-Rawlins Collection of early Italian stringed instruments crafted by Andrea Guarneri, Antonio Stradivari, three generations of the Amati family, and others. Many of these instruments in the collections cannot be found anywhere else in the world.The National Music Museum has become an international attraction. It is also the location for several concerts, seminars, conventions, and other activities. For more information on these, visit the National Music Museum's website at[http:// http://orgs.usd.edu/nmm/].