for Lara Downes
A fictional miniature that is neither based in fact, or musical or historical accuracy. An imagined “anniversary,” or perhaps more accurately described as an imagined conversation.
“The sun has been shining in a way to defy all wars and all dictators, and there’s nothing to be done about it.”
Aaron Copland’s letters to Leonard Bernstein are often jovial and informal. Depending on the letter (and Copland’s mood), Bernstein was addressed variously as Leonard, Lenny, Lensk, Lentschk, Lenotch, L, and even “Hey Pal!” One letter in particular, from March 23, 1938 (excerpt above) refers to a letter Bernstein sent to Copland, wherein the former is disappointed with “art, man and life.” Copland reminds Bernstein to maintain perspective (thrice), and that “art is quite young.” There’s also reference to a pianist, Cara Verson, who had performed Copland’s Variations, and a discussion of ways to stop her from playing it again. There’s talk of travel, performances, and when they’ll see each other again.
August 27, 2017
This work was composed while in residence at Copland House, Cortlandt Manor, New York, as a recipient of the Aaron Copland Award.