Piece: Appalachian Spring
Composer: Aaron Copland
Premier: October 30, 1944, Washington D.C.
Side 1 of the tape from Grandma - see here.
Even before I got the tape, I was well-acquainted with the piece's main theme, "Simple Gifts", from my quasi-Quaker upbringing at the Tree Farm (see here). I've always been especially fond of the French horn blast at the piece's climax. At least, it's a French horn in the recording I first knew. I've heard it as a trumpet (less effective) in others. Our daughter recently played part of the piece, Variations on a Shaker Melody, in her youth orchestra. Once again, the music on Grandma's tape has passed on to a fourth generation.
The piece was originally commissioned by Martha Graham to accompany a ballet of the same name. The ballet was first performed at the Library of Congress on a set designed by Isamu Noguchi. Copland won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for the work.
Appalachian Spring was initially scored for a 13-piece chamber orchestra. Here is a performance with the original instrumentation:
Finally, here is a taste of the ballet: