Aaron Copland (November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990) was an American composer of concert and film music. Instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, he was widely known as "the dean of American composers." Copland's music achieved a balance between modern music and American folk styles. The open, slowly changing harmonies of many of his works are said to evoke the vast American landscape.
Copland incorporated percussive orchestration, metric changes, polyrhythms, polychords, and tone rows in a broad range of works for the concert hall, theater, ballet and films. In addition to being a composer, Copland was a teacher, lecturer, critic, writer and conductor – generally, but not always, of his own works.
Aaron Copland was born in Brooklyn of Lithuanian Jewish descent, the last of five children, on November 14, 1900. Before emigrating from Russia to the United States, Copland's father, Harris Morris Copland, Anglicized his surname "Kaplan" to "Copland" while waiting in Scotland en route to America. Throughout his childhood, Copland and his family lived above his parents' Brooklyn shop, H.M. Copland's, at 628 Washington Avenue (which Aaron would later describe as "a kind of neighborhood Macy's"), on the corner of Dean Street and Washington Avenue, and most of the children helped out in the store. His father was a staunch Democrat. The family members were active in Congregation Baith Israel Anshei Emes, where Aaron celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. Not especially athletic, the sensitive young man became an avid reader and often read Horatio Alger stories on his front steps.