<< -- 4 -- David Thompson SIMPLE GIFTS?
In lighter, though no less scholarly vein, William Brooks discusses Copland's
fascination with the Shaker hymn 'Simple Gifts', which, in becoming a small,
but defining element in Copland's output, can now claim to have been
a redefining element in the place of folk melody in American consciousness
and appreciation. Daniel E Mathers dares to look behind the curtain into
the complexity of Copland's private life and predilections, and, in
doing so, makes us realise that the much-neglected Tender Land, which
resonates with personal associations, is ripe for serious re-appraisal.
The remainder of the book is devoted to responses to Copland. Stephen
Banfield's enjoyable journey down Broadway presents powerful evidence
that this indispensable area of American music itself found Copland indispensable,
even though, as we are reminded, he 'never wrote a show tune in his life'!
The Editor's own contribution, and the Open Forum Discussion confront
the puzzling dichotomy of styles with which Copland often bemuses his listeners.
For me, the great achievement of this book is that, for all its diversity
of content, a unified answer emerges, which gives wholeness to the sum of
its parts. Was Copland a musical schizophrenic? No, Copland was Copland,
a man whose work can be summarised by the simple expedient of borrowing
the title of William Brook's article: 'Simple gifts and complex accretions'.
Peter Dickinson claims, at the beginning of his introduction, that 'Copland
Connotations is a tribute to a great man'. It is a worthy one.
Copyright © 23 February 2003
David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK
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Copland Connotations : Studies and Interviews
edited by Peter Dickinson
Boydell & Brewer, 2002
ISBN 0 85115 902 8, hardback, 230 pages