Take a few homeschool minutes each Saturday to learn about a new musical composer or listen to a new piece of music. This week: Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait.”
Monday (12 February) was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, and next Monday (19 February) is Presidents’ Day, so in this presidential season we’re going to listen to a famous work by the great American composer Aaron Copland (1900–1990). “Lincoln Portrait” was written in 1942 and scored for orchestra and narrator. The narration features quotations from Lincoln’s speeches and writings.
The complete work is about 17 minutes long, with an extended orchestral section at the beginning. Here’s a seven-minute abridged version featuring only the narrated section for which the piece is best known. The narrator is Gregory Peck:
And here’s the full 17-minute work in a special 1980 National Symphony performance celebrating Copland’s 80th birthday, conducted by Leonard Bernstein and narrated by Copland himself beginning at the 8:15 mark. This is an excellent version to view with students because it shows all the sections of the orchestra at work, as well as the interaction between the conductor and the narrator (who had been close colleagues for many years):
If those samples whet your appetite, you can explore many other Copland compositions online, such as the quintessentially American “Simple Gifts” movement of Copland’s 1944 orchestral suite Appalachian Spring:
What musical discoveries have you made in your homeschool lately? 😊