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MUSA 31. Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring (Original Ballet Version)

Edited by Jennifer DeLapp-Birkett and Aaron Sherber


Appalachian Spring is perhaps the most popular work by Aaron Copland (1900–1990). Composed as a ballet for the renowned choreographer Martha Graham (1894–1991), it was the result of a close collaboration between Copland and Graham, and the music quickly took on a life of its own. However, the best known versions of the score, those most frequently recorded and heard in concert, differ in form and musical content from the original ballet, which was scored for a chamber ensemble of thirteen instruments and premiered by the Martha Graham Dance Company at the Library of Congress on 30 October 1944.

This edition presents the first completed engraving of the original version of Appalachian Spring, providing musicians and scholars access to the score as it has been performed for more than 75 years by the Graham Company. On each page of the score, the editors have included stills from the 1958 film of the ballet, with Graham dancing the lead role, in order to highlight the connection between music and dance.

An introductory essay explores the creation of the work, the musical structure, the origins of and differences among multiple versions of the score, and the continued significance and influence of Copland’s music. The critical commentary draws on manuscript and published sources, as well as Graham Company performance practice, to illuminate editorial decisions. The edition also includes appendices that present a comparison of historical tempi, markings from the Graham tradition for augmenting the orchestration, and a selected discography of different versions of the score.