Sing Ye Praises to Our King (from Four Motets) – Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
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The composer Aaron Copland (1900-1990) is perhaps best known for works such as Appalachian Spring, Rodeo and Old American Songs. Referred to by his peers as “the Dean of American Composers,” Copland achieved a distinctive musical characterization of American themes in an expressive modern style. The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Copland decided at the age of 15 to become a composer. As a first step he tried to learn harmony through a correspondence course but struggled toward his goal.
In the summer of 1921 Copland attended the newly founded school for Americans at Fontainebleau, where he came under the influence of Nadia Boulanger, a brilliant teacher who shaped the outlook of an entire generation of American musicians. He decided to stay on in Paris, where he became Boulanger’s first American student in composition. During this period he wrote his Four Motets, of which today’s communion motet in church, Sing Ye Praises to Our King, is the fourth. These motets premiered in 1924 but were not published until 1979.