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Friday, November 8, 2013

Meeting Copland...and MANY others. Mr. Jones and Music.

Aaron Copland conducting an orchestra at age 75
Aaron Copland

William Schuman, friend of Aaron Copland and Carroll Jones III wrote a tribute to Copland, available at

Correspondence from Mr. Jones:
"How does your garden grow?" Did you get the fence up? I didn't know Copland (I want to put an 'e' in it every time.) I was invited by Schuman to his Third Symphony at Lincoln Center. I sat with Schuman in the composer's box and Copland sat behind me. I only said hello to him at the beginning when Schuman introduced me (and to Ned Rorem too) and maybe a few head nods after intermission. Copland and Rorem sat behind me. ... I loved these people from the 50's to today and I made the penetration into the intelligent musical elite NY crowd all my my own doing. I never saw Copland in person before that day or after, just on stage conducting or talking. It was Schuman who made the continued friendship with me. That's what stymies me. I was not an intellectual equal to him at all....but he must have seen my true love of his music was there. I had heard his Third Sym on the radio several times and loved it. This must have been in the sixties. I don't remember now. I know I heard his music in the 50's and early sixties and loved it where if anyone else was listening to classical music at all, it was Brahms or Beethoven. I listened to Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey (I was really after them in age) and then Stan Kenton. My mind was learning big band and band jazz. When I heard Schuman, I could tell his knowledge of jazz was there. Not obviously, but so intelligently there. That was my secret world. Copland, Schuman and Charles Ives were rock stars. In school it was Buddy Holly, Chubby Checker, Frankie Avalon and so on. I lived with it but never with a whole heart. Who was I to bring up Aaron Copland...? Later in junior and senior year some friends of mine listened to Ella Fitzgerald and some of her elk. At least that. I never loved the rock and roll group or the 'classical' group. The real American sound of contemporary music and jazz was the real stuff for me. The four and five year stint I spent in college, I was always down at the music school and never was 'pulled' into the music of Beethoven or Hayden. The black kids who played jazz for the most part was the highlight of my life back then. The orchestra sometimes played contemporary music which I loved but my real love for the 'moderns' would come later. Who knows how all that happens? It just did to me. And it still is happening. While writing and re-reading this email it falls short. I could (and should) elaborate on the past (my past) because all of what went on went on almost daily through the months and years of childhood. Not in a few sentences as it sounds like today. I'm glad you are interested. I haven't met anyone who is. One exception: Marion Filler.......she asked me question after question. She really wanted to know. She was like you are now. The first time I ever met Schuman was at the premier of his Ninth Sym. I wasn't crazy about it. But there was chunks of Schuman in it. He was the busiest man I ever knew. At Intermission, I met his wife Frankie when she was walking out to the front. I stopped her and we talked for about 5 minutes until her husband came up to us with Morton Gould, his friend at that concert and a composer also....(I don't care for his music.) Schuman and his wife talked to me for another 5 minutes and I felt so blessed. It wasn't just a cold fish hand shake and moving on. He and Frankie were so interested in me. I told them I had work at the Coe Kerr Gallery (a biggie in NYC then) and they both agreed they would go. I got a letter from them a little later that they did go and would like me to do a painting for them. A red storefront. But I never did. My fault. I am so angry now with the way I was back then. There was always next week, next month. Life would last forever. And, it doesn't, I learned later. I was invited to go to Lenard Bernstein's Christmas party and I didn't go. (I think I may have told you that.) I'm not trying to earn points by telling you that but it shows the dullard I actually am. That's where it starts. Networking is what they call it now. Although I shutter to think that I would be part of that. Just to be near L.B. and listen to his voice would have been the world to me...even to sit by the edge of the room like a failure at a high school party."

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