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Podcast: Compare and contrast. 2 ballet scores by Aaron Copland.

March 29, 2019

COPLAND, A.: Billy the Kid / Grohg [Ballets]
Detroit Symphony, Leonard Slatkin
8.559862

Raymond Bisha presents a pair of vividly contrasting ballet scores by Aaron Copland, superbly performed by Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Grohg immediately suggested itself as the basis for a ballet after Copland attended a screening of Nosferatu, the popular German silent horror film, in 1922; the story-line of a vampire magician able to bring corpses to life is reflected in Copland’s early score that is by turns bizarre, morbid, excessive and infused with fantasy. In the 1930s, Copland realised that he and his fellow composers needed to communicate with a large and receptive audience, rather than a small and esoteric one; for him, the first major result of this new style was his 1938 ballet Billy the Kid. Its initial and enduring popularity was confirmed by the composer: “I cannot remember another work of mine that was so unanimously well received.”

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