Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring
I end this eight-day Copland "week" with what some might consider the expected choice, the safe choice, the known quantity. I considered, for that reason, picking something else.
But then I listened, again, to Appalachian Spring, and suddenly it did not matter what any critic might think of my choice. I love this piece.
As keys modulate and as chords progress, there is a release of tension in music: but also, I think, in the hearts of those that listen. Hearing Appalachian Spring again after fourteen years—I was deeply moved.
So Appalachian Spring it is.
"Simple Gifts" returns in part 7 of Appalachian Spring. Copland writes five variations on it—including one in which trumpets take over and shout out the melody, fast: this sweet hymn turns into a powerful call to hope.
The serene part 8 of Appalachian Spring moves me more than any other.
Here is Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic (from the album Bernstein Century: Copland) in Appalachian Spring:
I was holding my young cat Hermes when I listed to Appalachian Spring again after fourteen years. Suddenly, I felt a paw on my face. He leaned in and tapped his nose to mine. It is not the first time that a cat has tried to comfort me this year while I attempt a return to music.
I created "Like a Perhaps Hand," the image above, in 2006. It is based on Mandelbrot fractals. The title is from e. e. cummings' poem "Spring is like a perhaps hand":
Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere) . . .
changing everything carefully