Friday, February 16, 2018

A Window Above: Appalachian Spring

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:


  1. I ended up watching the ballet and it is so Martha Graham...not sure of what it means but in was fun to watch. I love this piece of music

  2. Well, I've been trying to get a chance to listen to this for about the last 4-5 hours but, now, I have to head out. I'll try again tomorrow.

  3. Its so beautiful. Thank you!

  4. Haven't watched the ballet yet- but listened to the music. Simply beautiful. Thanks for sharing. :)