Music Research and Composition Works

Title

Aaron copland and the politics of cultural diplomacy

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-1-2011

Journal

Journal of the Society for American Music

Volume

5

Issue

3

First Page

335

Last Page

364

URL with Digital Object Identifier

10.1017/S1752196311000162

Abstract

Scholars have largely ignored Aaron Copland's lengthy career as a cultural diplomat, although the documentation surrounding it sheds new light on his political views. Through a consideration of his work with the U.S. government during World War II and the Cold War this article argues that a brand of universalist internationalism, rooted in his earlier musical experiences in Europe and in his leftist politics, motivated many of Copland's political activities at home and overseas during this period. Copland remained committed to this perspective both before and after his McCarthy hearing in 1953, but the Cold War inevitably brought new challenges to a man with such an outlook. Copland's work with the U.S. Information Agency during this period shows that although his beliefs and attitudes remained unchanged, he felt the need to participate in a reconstruction of his image that better matched the new climate. His music written during the Cold War, furthermore, provides an artistic realization of this interaction between pragmatism and idealism. © 2011 The Society for American Music.

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