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Frontier FiguresAmerican Music and the Mythology of the American West$
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Beth Levy

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780520267763

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520267763.001.0001

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The Saga of the Prairies

The Saga of the Prairies

(p.293) 11 The Saga of the Prairies
Frontier Figures

Beth E. Levy

University of California Press

This chapter examines the process by which Aaron Copland's westernness replaced his more contentious leftism, overshadowed his overt engagement with African American musical materials, and won nationwide popularity for a composer who might otherwise have been marginalized based on his Russian–Jewish heritage or his homosexuality. The conjunction of whiteness, masculinity, and the West that was so significant a part of Harris's appeal had different but still powerful implications for Copland. The aggressive heroes and rugged landscapes of the West helped balance (veiled) allusions to his homosexual preferences, deflecting interest away from his Jewish, cosmopolitan background and focusing it on an Anglo, western mythology that was rapidly becoming a favorite arena for representations of American identity in the mass media.

Keywords:   American music, composers, Aaron Copland, Russian Jews, American West, homosexuality

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