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Copland on composing

It’s often - not always, but often - interesting to read what composers have written about composing—especially if they’re good writers. Aaron Copland was an excellent writer, although by all accounts a very reserved man, one who kept his personal feelings hidden. It’s especially interesting then, that Copland once wrote that a composer, in his music, “gives us himself,” but that he also wrote that he hated what he called “an emotion-drenched voice.”

“Somehow,” Copland wrote, describing a process that seems almost devoid of emotion, “suddenly, a musical idea occurs to you; either a whole phrase, or three notes, or a series of chords, something that seems pregnant with possibilities for development…. Some musical ideas are too short; they don’t seem long enough to carry you through ten minutes of music, so you have to start searching about for other ideas, contrasting ones that seem to fit with the original ones.” The words of Aaron Copland.

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.