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Rethinking American Music$
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Tara Browner and Thomas L. Riis

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042324

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042324.001.0001

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Dialogue without Words

Dialogue without Words

Identities and Dichotomies in Copland’s Piano Quartet

Chapter:
(p.247) 11 Dialogue without Words
Source:
Rethinking American Music
Author(s):

Jennifer DeLapp-Birkett

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252042324.003.0012

In Jennifer DeLapp-Birkett’s analysis, the “identities and dichotomies” of her title concern a single piece of music, Aaron Copland's Piano Quartet (1950) but also a number of extramusical issues that preoccupied the composer at the time. She places Copland’s work, including his Hollywood film score for “The Heiress” and the efforts of his contemporaries (such as Schoenberg, Virgil Thomson), within the complex political landscape post-World War II, the Red Scare in the United States, and the Cold War. Several incidents in Copland’s career circa 1950 indicate that he, with good reason, felt vulnerable to the forces of reaction at work. DeLapp-Birkett demonstrates conclusively that in his public statements and in his compositional development Copland was responding consciously to the pressures from a variety of sources.

Keywords:   Aaron Copland, Piano Quartet, Identities, Dichotomies, Communism, Virgil Thomson, atonal system, Hollywood, Cold War, Schoenberg

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