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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Aaron Copland's “Quiet City”: From the theater stage to the concert hall
by Mattera, Matthew Gregory, M.M., California State University, Long Beach, 2011, 28; 1507691
Abstract (Summary)

Aaron Copland's Quiet City for Trumpet, English Horn, and String Orchestra has become a popular addition to the concert repertoire. Copland's original score, composed as incidental music for Irwin Shaw's stage production entitled Quiet City (1940), independently emerged as a piece for the concert stage.

Aaron Copland began composing during childhood with a song written to his sister in-law. Copland eventually established his American-compositional identity, composing significant works throughout the nineteen-thirties, including: Short Symphony, El Salon México, and Billy the Kid, as well as references to various American folk-tunes. The score for Quiet City presented urban pastorals and nostalgia, among other elements to further reinforce Copland's emerging style.

Attracting the attention of Harold Clurman, founding member of the Group Theatre in New York City, Aaron Copland agreed to write incidental music to the stage production of Irwin Shaw's Quiet City. Following the cancellation of Quiet City after only two performances, Copland's score continued as an independent work.

The score to Quiet City has survived as a popular piece of solo literature. Featuring a duo of trumpet and English horn, Quiet City has been performed by musicians of the highest caliber, for example trumpeter Phil Smith and English horn-player Thomas Stacy. Quiet City has also been conducted by Leonard Bernstein, among other conductors. Modern performance practice of Quiet City provides the option for the trumpet and English horn to perform accompanied by either piano or string orchestra.

Whether examining compositional elements or following the chronology of concerts where programmed, Aaron Copland's Quiet City has proven to survive its humble beginning, affirming its place among the concert stage repertoire.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bremer, Carolyn
School: California State University, Long Beach
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 50/04M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Music
Publication Number: 1507691
ISBN: 978-1-267-18205-0
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