Aaron Copland (November 14, 1900 - December 2, 1990) was born in Brooklyn, New York. Of Russian Jewish descent, he spent his childhood living above his parents' Brooklyn shop. His music education included time with Rubin Goldmark, also one of George Gershwin's teachers, and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris from 1921. His first significant work was the necromantic ballet Grohg which contributed thematic material to his later Dance Symphony. Other major works of his first (austere) period include the Short Symphony (1933) and Music for Theater (1925). Copland's second period (vernacular) began around 1936 with Billy The Kid and El Salon Mexico. Perhaps Copland's most famous work, Fanfare for the Common Man, scored for brass and percussion was written in 1942 at the request of the conductor Eugene Goosens. The fanfare was also used as one of the main themes in the third movement of Copland's Third Symphony. Copland wrote Lincoln Portrait the same year.
Copland was an important contributor to the film score genre. Several of the themes he created are encapsulated in the suite, Music for Movies, and his score for the film of Steinbeck's novel, The Red Pony, one of Copland's favourite scores, was given a suite of its own.
Having defended the Communist Party USA during the 1936 presidential election, Copland was investigated by the FBI during the red scare of the 1950s. In 1953, his music was pulled from President Eisenhower's inaugural concert due to this; that same year Copland testified before Congress that he was never a Communist. The investigation went inactive in 1955 and was closed in 1975. Copland's membership in the party was never proven nor disproven.
Aaron Copland died in his home in Peekskill, New York.