All posts under Aaron Copland

9 Oscar-Winning Scores Still To Be Released

Thoroughly Modern Millie

You’d think there be a month that went by that I didn’t think about the Oscars. Alas, I’m just that shallow. Even though an Academy Award is no indication of quality, the Oscars are how I taught myself about the history of film music and I don’t like holes in my Oscar collection. Yet after 35+ years of burdening myself with such a foolish obsession, my collection is still minus too many excellent Oscar scores. I doubt the collection will ever be complete when it comes to nominated scores. There…

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9 Film Scores That Deserved a Pulitzer


The Pulitzer Prizes, handed out every April, are arguably the most prestigious prizes for journalism, arts and letters, and music in the U.S. Their monetary value is nominal; what matters is the prestige. In this month’s newsletter, I discussed the 2004 changes that came about in the Pulitzer rules allowing film music into consideration for the Music prize. Only one film score has ever won a Pulitzer—Virgil Thomson’s score to the 1948 documentary LOUISIANA STORY. So I thought it might be fun in this month’s “9 on the 9th” post…

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CD Review: Of Mice and Men/Our Town


Aaron Copland only wrote a handful of film scores so the release of any new film music from this legendary composer is just cause of celebration. And the new Naxos premiere recording of Copland’s complete scores for OF MICE AND MEN (1939) and OUR TOWN (1940) is, dare I say, a landmark event in film music. Copland was invited to Hollywood following the success of his score for the THE CITY, a documentary for the 1939 World’s Fair. In short order, Copland scored these two film adaptations based on works…

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Interview: Mark Leneker


If you Google the name Mark Leneker, you won’t find much information. But this man is responsible for bringing to light a brand new, premiere recording on Naxos of Aaron Copland’s complete, Oscar-nominated scores for OF MICE AND MEN (1939) and OUR TOWN (1940). (Look for my review in tomorrow’s post.) Copland’s score for the 1939 documentary, THE CITY, got him noticed by Hollywood and he was invited to score the film versions of these two famous literary works by John Steinbeck and Thornton Wilder. Mark recently spoke with me by…

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Propaganda and Peasants: Aaron Copland’s Score to THE NORTH STAR

The North Star

On June 22, 1941, Hitler invaded Russia, violating the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact of 1939 and foisting the Soviet Union as an ally on an unprepared world at war. The Bolshevik revolution, the Moscow purge trials and executions of the late 1930s, and the non-aggression pact strained Soviet-U.S. relations to the breaking point. However, once the United States entered the war following Pearl Harbor, it was evident that America was going to have to find a way to make nice with its new former enemy. To change America’s perception of its…

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DVD Review: The City

The City

Year by year our cities grow more complex and less fit for living. The age of rebuilding is here. We must remould our old cities and build new communities better suited to our needs. So begins the 1939 documentary THE CITY. First shown at the 1939 World’s Fair, THE CITY was created by the American Institute of Planners to promote the aims of Franklin Roosevelt’s Resettlement Administration as part of the New Deal. Filmed with a grant from the Carnegie Foundation, Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke photographed from the screenplay by Lewis Mumford,…

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A Woman of Independent Means

The Heiress

One of the great Oscar-winning performances and one of the great Oscar-winning scores, though few film score fans are familiar with it. THE HEIRESS stars Olivia de Havilland as mousy Catherine Sloper in turn-of-the-century Washington Square. She falls for money-grubbing, yet handsome, Montgomery Clift (and who wouldn’t!) against the wishes of her cruel, overbearing, and unloving father (Ralph Richardson). When the mouse realizes what a rat Clift really is, spinster descends upon her like a shroud. Clift’s comeuppance is one of the great scenes for any actress, and de Havilland…

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You Have Cheated Me


“You Have Cheated Me”: Aaron Copland’s Compromised Score to The Heiress Published in Film Score Monthly May/June 2005   Aaron Copland arrived in Hollywood in 1938, and in little more than a decade he’d had enough. With his scores to Of Mice and Men (1939) and Our Town (1940), he created a new musical language in film. But when his score to The Heiress (1949) was chopped to bits, poorly dubbed, and rescored without his approval, Copland left for good, with his pride, popularity, and reputation intact. During the late…

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