<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> <b><i>Scherzo humoristique (Cat and Mouse)</i></b> Copland's American <i>Petrushka</i> and His Debt to Stravinsky <p> Who wrote this fiendish "Rite of Spring," What right has he to write the thing, Against our helpless ears to fling Its crash, clash, cling, clang, bing, bang, bing? —Nicholas Slonimsky, <i>Music Since 1900</i> <p> <p> Copland's path to a modern neoclassical musical style has two stages of training, American and European. The first began during the late teens in New York with compositional studies with Rubin Goldmark; the second began in 1921 in France with his study with Nadia Boulanger. His American training offered him mastery of styles and techniques of the Classic-Romantic period; his European training provided him with mastery of those of music then current in Europe. Past studies of Copland's life and career have conventionally credited Boulanger with shaping his ideas about modernism and with the maturation of his musical style. However, before Copland departed North American shores, he had ideas of his own—ones clearly formed in New York independent of Goldmark that reflect a level of maturity that would be refined by Boulanger. Copland showed an acute and analytical interest in the music of Igor Stravinsky, Aleksandr Scriabin, and French composers such as Debussy and Ravel. <p> Early works composed during his studies with Goldmark and Boulanger illuminate Copland's understanding of ultramodernism and modernism. These compositions reveal his interest in and mastery of the new techniques of Stravinsky and, limitedly, Scriabin, seen first in his earliest mature composition, <i>Scherzo humoristique (The Cat and the Mouse). Cat and Mouse was</i> also the work that brought Copland his first public success. He took it with him to Paris, where it was publicly performed and became his first published composition. <p> <p> <b>New Music in New York</b> <p> The new music of both American and European composers during the second decade of the twentieth century was variously referred to as modern and as ultramodern music. As Carol Oja writes in her study of the rise of modern music in New York, during the time the music of European modernists began to arrive in the United States, through the early years of the Great Depression, <i>modernism</i> was something of an umbrella term that encompassed the works of composers who "explored an imaginative range of styles and ideologies." Styles and compositional methods varied among composers who emerged during the 1910s and 1920s, and "difference and diversity were at modernism's core." There was no common musical style or language; no single school of composition dominated. The one uniting principle was freedom, innovation, and reaction to—if not rejection of—the nineteenth-century German Romantic tradition in a new century marked by technological, economic, and social change. Pianist-composer Leo Ornstein's early public performances (from 1915 to the end of the decade) of both his own works and those of other modernists introduced New York audiences to highly dissonant music marked by tone clusters and a new conception of piano technique. Other prominent modern composers emerged as leaders of the movement. Bartók received some performances; Scriabin (who had visited in 1906) and Erik Satie were well received in the United States. The music of Arnold Schoenberg was sporadically programmed during the century's second decade, his String Quartet in D Minor premiered by the Flonzaley Quartet in January 1914 in New York. His orchestral works also received major performances: in December 1914 the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed <i>Five Orchestral Pieces</i> under the baton of Karl Muck. Months later the New York Philharmonic Symphony Society premiered <i>Pelleas und Melisande</i>. Ornstein also introduced New York audiences to Schoenberg's music, performing <i>Opus 11</i> in recital. One influential modernist, Edgard Varèse, first arrived in late December 1915, and became what Oja terms the "matinee idol of modernism" in New York during the 1920s. Other Europeans soon followed: Ernest Bloch, E. Robert Schmitz, and Dane Rudhyar. By the second half of the 1920s, two Americans would emerge as modern music leaders: Henry Cowell and Aaron Copland. <p> While many styles were considered "modern" during this time, critics referred to the dissonant, innovative music of composers such as Schoenberg and Stravinsky as "ultramodern." Composers of this ilk sought to break free of the tonal system, embraced an aesthetic of experimentation, and liberated dissonance in their works. Stravinsky made an early and major impact on American concert life. The BSO performed <i>Fireworks</i> in December 1914. American audiences were further introduced to his works <i>via</i> the Ballets Russes' 1916 Metropolitan Opera–sponsored American tour. Other New York performances of <i>Firebird</i> and <i>Petrushka</i> took place in January 1916. <i>Petrushka</i> appears to have captivated New York audiences, inspiring sisters Irene and Alice Lewisohn to present it at Grand Street's Neighborhood Playhouse later that year. A production of <i>Petrushka</i> choreographed by Adolph Bolm (based on Michel Fokine's) choreography was staged at the Met in 1919. Concert performances of Stravinsky's works also took place. Although his <i>Three Pieces for String Quartet</i> was poorly received in 1915, Olga Haley and the London String Quartet successfully presented <i>Pribautki</i> in New York in the spring of 1918; the Flonzaley Quartet premiered Concertino for String Quartet in November 1920. <p> <p> <b>Early Piano and Composition Studies</b> <p> Most of Copland's exposure to contemporary music during his youth was the product of autodidacticism and study of the piano literature. There was amateur music making in his home: his mother played piano and sang; his uncle played the violin, and occasionally his brother and sister would play violin and piano duets. Their selections consisted mostly of "potpourris from operas—but their top accomplishment was a fair rendition of the Mendelssohn <i>Violin Concerto</i>," Copland recalled. Other music performed in his home included ragtime and selections from popular shows. Copland started piano at the age of seven, learning the basics from his sister Laurine. His father, Harris, finally consented to formal lessons when Copland was thirteen; he studied with three prominent New York pedagogues: Victor Wittgenstein, Clarence Adler, and Leopold Wolfsohn. From Adler, Copland learned both technique and the core piano repertoire—Chopin waltzes; Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven sonatas; Hugo Wolf songs, Debussy preludes, and Scriabin tone poems. In the fall of 1917, his senior year of high school, Copland began composition studies with Goldmark. After a year of study, together they agreed that Copland had learned about as much as he could from Wolfsohn; Goldmark recommended Wittgenstein. Copland had hoped to learn more about the contemporary piano literature, but like Wolfsohn, Wittgenstein was, in Copland's view, a musical conservative and considered Copland something of a radical. The most modern work he performed during his study with Wittgenstein was Ravel's <i>Sonatine</i>. The teen studied two years with him before moving on to study with Adler, with whom he remained from the winter of 1919 to the spring of 1921. <p> On his own Copland began to discover new music, that of Scriabin, Debussy, and Ravel. Modern music emerged before the phonograph and sound recordings became mainstays in American homes, initially disseminated through live performances and scores, published reviews, and simply word of mouth. Similarly, Copland encountered modern music by attending concerts in Manhattan, which he began in earnest after commencing studies with Goldmark. During World War I and following, the popularity of German music declined in the United States due to anti-German sentiment. This led to increased performances of works by French composers, the United States' ally. Thus, Copland was exposed to a range of new French music. He heard Walter Damrosch and the New York Symphony Orchestra, and Debussy's <i>Nocturnes</i> performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra; he attended a Chicago Opera production of <i>Pelléas et Mélisande</i>. He also attended concerts by both Prokofiev and Paderewski, who inspired Copland to become a composer around 1915. Copland also subscribed to the Metropolitan Opera, where he heard his first opera, <i>Boris Godunov</i>. He also enjoyed dance, attending performances by Isadora Duncan and the Ballets Russes. He is known to have attended a performance by Ornstein in 1919. <p> Copland gained further exposure to modern music through the study of scores, either through purchase or by borrowing them from Manhattan's Fifty-eighth Street branch of the Public Library. Among works from the standard repertoire, he was drawn to the music of Chopin, Grieg, and Tchaikovsky rather than to the German Romantics. Bloch's Violin Sonata inspired Copland to study more of his works. Independent of either Goldmark or his piano teachers, Copland studied several Debussy piano works, Scriabin's "Vers la flamme" (1914) and his Tenth Sonata (1913); and the works of Ravel, Mussorgsky, and other contemporary composers. Thus, before he had even graduated high school, Copland had been exposed to the music of the leading European modernists, ranging from Debussy to Stravinsky, from the 1890s to works composed shortly (sometimes just months) before Copland first heard them. <p> In his autobiography cowritten with Vivian Perlis, Copland reminisced that at the age of eight and a half, he began his earliest attempts at composition. Copland's biographer, Howard Pollack, documents that by the age of twelve Copland had begun notating melodies. By the time he began study with Wolfsohn, Copland had begun an opera, a setting of <i>Cavalleria Rusticana</i>, but lacked the skill to complete more than just a few bars. As Copland neared the end of his studies with Wolfsohn, he also began a Schubert-influenced piano work, <i>Valse Impromptu</i> (1916). Realizing he had a limited knowledge of harmony, he first attempted to improve his compositional technique through a mail-order harmony course. Despite following this course of study, Copland began but was unable to complete an ambitious <i>Capriccio</i> for piano and violin. He also worked on an early <i>Theme and Variations</i> for piano; a Victor Herbert–style nostalgic song; and planned a biblical oratorio. By spring 1917 Copland completed a solo piano work, <i>Moment Musicale—a Tone Poem</i>, influenced by Beethoven, Liszt, and Tchaikovsky, and Jewish music. Copland's primary deficiency was his inability to modulate, which prompted him to seek a composition teacher. Wolfsohn referred him to Goldmark. <p> Copland found Goldmark an excellent teacher of the fundamentals of musical composition (harmony, form, and counterpoint) and stayed with him for four years. He consistently praised Goldmark's sound mastery of Common Practice styles and techniques. His studies progressed, but Copland experienced the same problems with Goldmark that he had with his piano teachers. Goldmark was limited: he had little use for new music and openly discouraged Copland from playing such works and composing in this style. Rather than resigning himself to studying exclusively the works of past masters, Copland pursued the study of modern music and the latest works coming from Europe on his own rather than with the assistance of an instructor. <p> Through independent study of scores and reading contemporary music criticism, Copland began to shape his own modernist aesthetic. His first efforts to discuss modern music dates to a student performance in Adler's studio. Before performing Ravel's <i>Sonatine</i>, Copland explained the work to his audience of fellow students. "It was my first talk about a musical 'modernist.' Without being aware of it, I was embarking here for the first time on the role of musical commentator." His earliest ideas about modern music can be gleaned from his articles on the music of his contemporaries. One appeared in Cowell's groundbreaking <i>American Composers on American Music</i>, in the section "Composers in Review of Other Composers." In "Carlos Chávez—Mexican Composer," a reprint of an article first published in the <i>New Republic</i>, Copland wrote about another composer who would be identified with both international modernism and national and ethnic, self-conscious cultural definition, or nationalism. Praising several features of Chávez's music, Copland, by then a member of the League of Composers, placed his peer among a small group of "forward-looking musicians" that included composers who were not known beyond the modern music concerts of the International Composers' Guild. Not only did Copland describe Chávez's style, but in the course of the article he also indirectly explained the new musical developments generally applicable to all composers. In doing so, Copland attempted to define the new music in general. <p> Copland was direct and to the point: Chávez's music exemplified "the complete overthrow of nineteenth-century ideas which tyrannized over music for more than a hundred years." Copland saw all twentieth-century music as this departure from nineteenth-century romanticism. "The entire history of modern music, therefore, may be said to be a history of the gradual pull-away from the Germanic musical tradition of the past century." This led eventually to two revolutions, one aesthetic and one technical, thereby delimiting definitions of modernism along these two lines, aesthetic and stylistic. Copland characterized the technical revolution, via a departure from music of the past, as an aesthetic of innovation, which had led to new techniques, new harmonic languages, and new styles. As the years progressed and Copland assessed the developments of the thirties, his writings became more specific and moved beyond general references to "nineteenth-century Germanic ideals." He presented considerations of style, theory, chronology, and aesthetics upon which to base his definitions. <p> Copland's later ideas on modernism remained consistent with those formed during his twenties and early thirties. One unifying thread he wove through his music criticism in articles written in the 1930s and early 1940s was the innovation of French modernists. He later specifically referred to German romanticism as the ideal that composers had rejected. Copland cogently summarized the Romantic aesthetic as one of the composer striving for emotional expression. "The German Romantic was highly subjective and personal in the expression of his emotions. The 20th-century composer seeks a more universal ideal. He tends to be more objective and impersonal in his music." The "subjective" was the primary feature of romanticism—a subjective/objective dichotomy often also articulated by other writers. Modern music was "objective"—it sought no deep philosophical meaning. It did not strive for metaphysical transcendence or the prima facie expression of the artist, but was "matter-offact, more concise—and, especially, less patently emotional." It was, to borrow from Stravinsky, autonomous and expressed only the musical idea itself. Copland identified two composers who had inaugurated the move away from the styles and aesthetics of Wagner: "Modernism is generally taken to mean the Debussy-Ravel aesthetic." <p> Copland accepted the then-current new music categories "ultramodern music" and "modern music," noting that many different styles of music were pigeonholed as ultramodern by critics and audiences. He wrote, "A great many different kinds of music were grouped indiscriminately together, and especially today the newer music may be said to include an unusually variegated experience." Modern and ultramodern music, however, were not synonymous, though the terms were often used interchangeably. Both trends did spring from the same source—the rejection of the aesthetics and styles of the German Romantic past—but there were aesthetic, stylistic, and chronological differences that permitted Copland to differentiate between them. He devised a chronology, separating the way the terms were used at the beginning of the century from their use from the mid-twenties to World War II. In a 1928 article, "Music Since 1920," Copland summarized new musical developments that had taken place in the United States, acknowledging that there was no crystal-clear, precise meaning of the term <i>modern music</i>. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>THE AMERICAN STRAVINSKY</b> by <b>Gayle Murchison</b> Copyright © University of Michigan by 2012. Excerpted by permission of THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.