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Copland: Fanfare for America / Film by Andreas Skipis [DVD]

Album Summary

>Copland, Aaron : Work(s)

Notes & Reviews:

Copland (1900-1990) is best known & loved for the popular compositions written from 1936-49, such as Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid and Rodeo. Together with Gershwin, Ives and Bernstein, this sassy New Yorker of Russian-Jewish descent created music that mirrored the world in which he lived and captured the very essence of American life in sound. Fanfare for America surveys his life and career with archive film & specially-shot footage including an interview with Copland, biographer Howard Pollack, and leading exponent of his music conductor Hugh Wolff. Also included: Benny Goodman playing the Clarinet Concerto he commissioned from the Copland, Bernstein conducting the patriotic Lincoln Portrait for speaker and orchestra, and Martha Graham dancing in Appalachian Spring.

Ballet Review
we get substantial chunks from some key works, mostly played by Wolff and the hr-Sinfonie orchester in Frankfurt, often filmed in striking locations... we hear a bit of Rodeo, dance is mainly represented by Appalachian Spring, including Graham and company in a scene from it... this film provides a solid place to start.

Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
those wishing to dive deeper into Copland's legacy, and an oeuvre that captures the "pep and zip of American life," this DVD is a nice place to start.

This DVD is a very enjoyable... Wolff lead a lovely performance... Stella Doufexis also gives a lovely rendition of three of the orchestrated Emily Dickinson songs... this is a good biography with a healthy dollop of beautiful music. It adds to my appreciation of Copland...

This is an excellent overview of Copland - his life, his musical style, and his place in the history of American music... this is an informative introduction to Copland and his music...

American Record Guide
This is a solid documentary, and it stays interesting and doesn't get stale. The performances are good... and the sound... is... satisfactory... this is a good Copland portrait.

MusicWeb International
While the biographical information imparted in this hour is limited, the film achieves a good balance between interview, voice-over and music. Those who are unfamiliar with Copland will come away with a better understanding of what he was about. Aficionados of his work will find this superficial, but this is an ideal documentary for a library or music school wishing to offer an overview of Copland's music to its patrons.

Children might be more inspired if they could watch Andreas Skipis' documentary, Aaron Copland: Fanfare for America, for this is the story of a Russian-Jewish New Yorker who overcame a whole set of challenges in life to become one of the best-known and most popular composers of Americana. Various compositions by Copland are heard (in excerpts) during the 60-minute film, which also includes an interview with the composer himself and comments by his biographer, Howard Pollack, and conductor Hugh Wolff. It is fun to see musical celebrities engaging with Copland's works - Martha Graham dancing Appalachian Spring, Leonard Bernstein conducting A Lincoln Portrait, Benny Goodman playing the Clarinet Concerto (which he commissioned) - but the excerpts are too short to give the full effect of the music or of these particular performances. Nevertheless, the film has many attractive elements, even though (like so many works about Copland) it gives short shrift to his later, more difficult, less accessible works - focusing on pieces that have become iconic but beyond which Copland moved many years before his death in 1990. Intended for adults, Skipis' film should also appeal to at least some children, who may enjoy the jazzy rhythms of the musical selections and the story of an unlikely purveyor of heartland Americana.

Music Media Monthly
This disc is a reissue of the 2001 television documentary that provides a whirlwind survey of Aaron Copland's life, with much of the juicy bits coming from interviews with Copland biographer Howard Pollack. We learn that Copland had a carefree, middleclass childhood in Brooklyn and that he traveled to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger; he also traveled throughout Europe and was exposed to other composers both personally (Stravinsky) and musically (Mahler). There is some very special footage here, of Bernstein conducting "Lincoln Portrait" and of Copland conducting a performance of his clarinet concerto featuring Benny Goodman. Copland himself is interviewed several times; in one clip, he speaks about being approached by Mr. Durand after performing one of his early piano works. The famed French publisher pitched a low-ball offer to the budding composer, who accepted and signed away all his rights to the work for under $50.

Throughout the documentary, interviewees espouse Copland's temperance and modesty, and likewise the film itself is mellow and undramatic to the point of being disengaging - it has a cinematic presentation whose flow is interrupted by enjoyable but lengthy musical interludes. The narration is in German, and subtitles are provided in several languages. As might be expected from a made-for-TV documentary, the content is aimed at a very general audience, making this film a potentially good fit for a humanities curriculum.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 60 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: NTSC, 4:3, Color
Sound Format(s): LPCM Stereo,
Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish


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Works Details

>Copland, Aaron : Work(s)
  • Period Time: Modern