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The City / A Documentary with Music by Aaron Copland with the original plus a newly recorded soundtrack [DVD]

Album Summary

>Copland, Aaron : The City
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Made for the 1939 New York World's Fair ("The World of Tomorrow"), 'The City' is a seminal documentary film distinguished for the organic integration of narration (scripted by city planner Lewis Mumford), cinematography (Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke) and music (Aaron Copland). The score, arguably Copland's highest achievement in film, was also his ticket to Hollywood; it has been called "an astonishing missing link not only in the genesis of Copland's Americana style but in American music and cinema" (Mark Swed, 'The Los Angeles Times'). As the film contains no dialogue, it is possible to create a fresh soundtrack and discover musical riches inaudible on the original monaural recording. As Copland created no suite from 'The City', the present DVD at the same time marks the world premiere recording of this music in its entirety.

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American Music
The DVD comes with three fascinating bonus features that offer additional teaching-related opportunities: The entire film with the original soundtrack (mentioned above); a documentary about the town of Greenbelt, Maryland, where the final section of the film was shot; and a conversation between Joseph Horowitz and George Stoney, a documentary filmmaker and a historian of the genre. Stoney's conversation with Horowitz will be useful for students of both film and music history. Particularly interesting is Stoney's discussion of the role of music in the early documentary. In The City, he says, music serves both to emphasize the film's political message and to provide relief from its weightiness. Elsewhere Horowitz assesses the influence of Thomson's film music on Copland and describes the nature of their combined contribution to the genre. Together, he says, they crafted uniquely "American" soundtracks that differed markedly from the European-influenced Hollywood model, creating a leaner style with "fewer notes" that others would soon emulate.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 131 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: NTSC, 4:3
Sound Format(s): Dolby digital, DTS Surround


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Works Details

>Copland, Aaron : The City
  • Conductor: Angel Gil-Ordonez
  • Ensemble: Post-Classical Ensemble
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Film Score
  • Written: 1939