The Sydney Symphony presents a Copland retrospective

Aaron Copland

The Sydney Symphony continues its commemoration of 80 years of performing  with its tribute concerts recognising significant moments in music history.  This week, their fourth tribute concert features Aaron Copland’s Third Symphony, (For the Common Man) in a look back at the composer’s visit to Sydney in 1978.

One of the most influential American composers, Copland was born in Brooklyn of Lithuanian Jewish parents. The family name was originally Kaplan. He studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris where he developed a style that straddled ideas from classical and jazz, Latin and American folk music. This biographical information is important in understanding Copland’s style.

 The entry of the USA into World War II heightened his nationalism and the 1940s saw him complete three works that speak to the broader American public. The Third Symphony, composer between 1944 and 1946 was one of these. The others were The Fanfare for the Common Man and the Lincoln Portrait. Indeed the third symphony contains thrilling references to his Fanfare for the Common Man.

In Paris, Copland came under the influence of Debussy and his successors, and so Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun is an apt programme companion to the third symphony as is From me flows what you call Time by Toru Takemitsu which also begins with a flute solo and a swells to a wash of impressionistic colour.

Takemitsu’s work premiered in 1990 at Carnegie Hall. It’s scored for for five percussionists and orchestra and contains innovative spatial effects, suspended chimes and coloured ribbons representing water, fire, earth, wind and sky. Performing it are the superbly talented percussionists of the Sydney Sympony’s who include Rebecca Lagos, Colin Piper, Mark Robinson, Ian Cleworth, Tim Constable.

Conducting this performance is American conductor Robert Spano whose distinguished career has seen him conduct major orchestras  around the world, amongst them, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Berlin Radio Sinfonie Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestras.

DEBUSSY,  C: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

TAKEMITSU, T: From me flows what you call Time

COPLAND, A: Symphony No 3 (For the Common Man)

Pre-concert talk by Genevieve Lang in the Northern Foyer, 45 minutes before the performance.


From $35 to $119.00.

Call the Sydney Symphony Box Office, 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday on 8215 4600 or visit



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