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Letter Giving Tips for the Performance of His Unplayable “Passacaglia”

$360 net
Item: 22510
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COPLAND, AARON. (1900-1990). American pianist and composer of several 20th-century masterpieces such as music for the ballets Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and Appalachian Spring. TLS. (“Aaron Copland”). 1p. Large 8vo. Peekskill, November 4, 1968. On his personal stationery. To Canadian pianist ANYA LAURENCE (?-2020).

“I was glad to know of your planned performance of my PASSACAGLIA at your piano recital.

The description of how you handle the fortissimo section on page 7 of the piece is in accord with my own understanding of how it should be done. I realized when I wrote it that it was not playable in the literal way in which it reads. It never occurred to me that it was possible to play it in any other way than the one you describe.

With all best wishes for a successful concert… Yours sincerely…”

Trained in Paris, Copland was the first American to study with noted French composer, Nadia Boulanger, who demanded that her students master conventional musical forms including the Passacaglia. Copland’s Passacaglia for piano was composed between 1921 and 1922 and premiered in Paris in 1923 with a dedication to Boulanger. An intricate piece filled with difficult techniques – “a veritable textbook of contrapuntal devices… invertible counterpoint, augmentation, diminution, and basso ostinato, all subtly and expertly handled… Copland’s remark about the Passacaglia’s technical difficulties – “I am told that it is not an easy piece to play” – seems something of an understatement; the (first) triple-forte climax, in three staves, is virtually unplayable as written,” (Aaron Copland: The Life & Work of an Uncommon Man, Pollack). Despite his French training and the influence of Russian-born American composer Igor Stravinsky, Copland’s compositions are distinctly American in theme and flavor, and it is for this that Copland is revered.

Laurence studied in New York with Rudolf Firkusny and, after a debut recital at Carnegie Hall, embarked on a career as a concert pianist and teacher at Ontario’s University of Guelph and Janacek Academy in the Czech Republic. She also authored Love Divine: The Life of Henry Ward Beecher and Women of Notes: 1,000 Women Composers Born Before 1900.

Folded with some light creasing and age toning along the right and left edge; a pin hole in the upper margin and two minor closed tears in the center fold, otherwise fine.

Letter Giving Tips for the Performance of His Unplayable “Passacaglia”

$360 net • item #22510

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