AT - Franconia Ridge.JPG
The region in which the today’s piece takes place, part of the Appalachian Trail.

This may be the first time ever I have posted about a 20th century piece (except for the Star Wars music briefly), but just wait til you hear this. It sounds like a modern movie soundtrack. I also have something of a story to go with this one, so use your imagination as you listen.

Aaron Copland 1970.JPG
(“Aaron Copland 1970” by CBS Television – 
 eBay itemphoto frontphoto back
Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.)

But first a little bit about this piece and the composer first. The composer is Aaron Copland, an American composer, who died just 25 years ago. Keep in mind you’re not listening to some composer who lived way back when, but one who (if you’re over 25) lived at some point during your lifetime. Listening to this music may remind you of the style of movie soundtracks that you have seen, since Copland was alive for most of the 1900s. He did write music for a few movies in fact (here). You may recognize his Fanfare for the Common Man, or Hoedown from Rodeo. When I listen to some of his orchestral works, it brings to mind a western movie because it sounds like music they use in westerns. I don’t know why, it just does. So when you listen, you can imagine your perfect cast and sets and costumes and acting without Hollywood ruining it for you. That is the beauty of imagination, directing your own movie in your head.

The piece we’re gonna listen to today also reminds me of a western, and if you look at the story behind it, it takes place in the 1800s. It is called Appalachian Spring, originally composed as a ballet, but later arranged into an orchestral suite. I cannot explain how it brings to mind the right time period, I didn’t even know the story behind it when I first listened and that was the time period I imagined. It probably has to do with the style of music that is commonly used in westerns. Weird how that works. You can compare it with the intended story (here) used in the ballet.

I don’t imagine quite as detailed of a story as I have with the 1812 Overture, but rather have a general idea of the various scenes (or you can make up your own as you listen):

(00:00)- Sunrise on the ranch, introduction to the characters. A woman drinks coffee while reading as the sun rises over a picturesque landscape (a perfect morning IMO)

(3:03)- We go in town to see characters going about their daily business around a small town, greeting friends and shopping and running errands

(3:49)- The camera zooms out of the town to get a bird’s eye view (pun intended), and follows a bird flying overhead off into the sunrise, then back to the people

(5:13)-We come back to following the bird later as it lands near the woman drinking coffee (all is right with the world when you are surrounded by cuteness)

(5:54)- Family life on the ranch. A drought occurs, no rain, animals die, crops die, but the main characters live.

(8:09)-The woman and her husband discuss the drought and stuff and they have hope that things will turn out right.

(9:16)- Back in town, children playing, people riding horses, people shop and get ready for the barn dance in a few days

(10:41)- People go out riding horses, exploring. Epic scenery at 11:52

(12:42)- More preparations for the barn dance

(13:45)- More people out riding horses enjoying the day, along with scenes of preparing for the barn dance

(15:42)-The woman and her husband remember the good life when there was no drought

(18:11)- Morning of the dance, begins to rain (you may recognize this tune, it is used for Simple Gifts and Lord of the Dance), people dance and rejoice and celebrate

(21:04)- The main characters sit outside watching the sunset that night

(22:57)- This is the part with quotes from the main characters that everyone remembers that inspire people. No one rides off into the sunset (sorry).


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