Promise of Living, The

From Wind Repertory Project
Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland (trans. Kenneth Singleton)

Subtitle: From The Tender Land

General Info

Year: 1954 / 2002
Duration: c. 5:40
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts - $60.00   |   Score Only - $4.95


Full Score
Flute I-II-III
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Clarinet Solo-I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba I-II
  • Xylophone


In Parts and Score:

  • Flute I-II, the last four meas. before D: In 9/8, not 12/8.
  • Flute II, the last note in m.101: Should be C, not D
  • B-flat Bass Clarinet, the last two beats of m.101: Should be B-F#-F#
  • Euphonium, the last measure before E: Should be in 6/8, not 9/8

Program Notes

Copland's only full-length opera, The Tender Land (1952-1954), tells the story of a young girl, Laurie Moss, who grows up on a Midwestern farm and is about to leave home. Two numbers from this opera have become choral favorites. In The Promise of Living, at the close of the first act, three generations of the Moss family and their hired hands sing a hymn of gratitude for life, the land, and the spring harvest. Stomp Your Foot is a rousing square dance number sung by the entire cast at Laurie's high school graduation party.

- Program note by San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra concert program, 12 May 2012

The Promise of Living (1954) is a quintet that unites hobos and family at the end of the first act in celebration of the harvest and its traditions. Even without voices, the use of the folk hymn Zion’s Walls and Copland’s transparent scoring create a clear dramatic sequence. A dramatic gesture gives way to a quiet, lyrical passage, in which the gentle rise and fall of the melody suggests the unfolding sequence of wistful thoughts. Woodwinds gradually interject to create a sense of dialogue, both internal and, eventually, external.

The answer comes, this time fuller, building to a passage that is signature Copland: a smooth melody rooted in open harmonies, with bits of short repeated motives in call and response style which keep the music moving. Brass eventually join the scene, their chorale style underscoring the ritualistic role of the moment without losing the introspective quality that draws together community and individual, past and present.

- Program Note by Los Angeles Philharmonic


State Ratings

  • Florida: V
  • Georgia: V
  • Louisiana: IV
  • North Carolina: V
  • South Carolina: V
  • Tennessee: V


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Symphony (Marc Sosnowchik, conductor) – 2 October 2023
  • United States Coast Guard Band (New London, Conn.) (Adam Williamson, conductor) - 15 January 2023
  • The Naperville (Ill.) Winds (Sean Kelley, conductor) - 1 December 2022
  • Cuesta Wind Ensemble (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) (Jennifer Martin, conductor) - 26 October 2022
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Mark Scatterday, conductor) - 17 October 2022
  • The Whitworth University (Spokane, Wash.) (Richard Strauch, conductor) - 1 May 2022
  • Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Wind Symphony (Rubén D. Gómez, conductor) - 27 April 2022
  • CBDNA 2022 Western/Northwestern Division (Tacoma, Wash.) Intercollegiate Band (Paula Holcomb, conductor) – 19 March 2022 (CBDNA 2022 Western/Northwestern Conference, Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) - 22 October 2021
  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Wind Symphony (Allison Satterwhite, conductor) - 26 October 2020
  • Arkansas State University (Jonesboro) Wind Ensemble (Shawn Crawford, conductor) - 13 March 2020
  • Southridge High School Wind Ensemble (Beaverton, Ore,R) (Cameron Jerde, conductor) - 12 December 2019
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Ensemble (Daniel Cook, conductor) – 13 November 2019
  • University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, Wash) Wind Ensemble (Gerard Morris, conductor) - 17 October 2019
  • University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) Wind Ensemble (Jonathan Whitaker, conductor) – 21 March 2019
  • Baylor University (Waco, Texas) Concert Band (Steve Dailey, conductor) – 4 March 2019
  • University of Chicago (Ill.) Wind Ensemble (Chip De Stefano, conductor) – 18 November 2018
  • Southeastern Louisiana University (Hammond) Wind Symphony (Derek Stoughton, conductor) - 24 September 2018
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Symphony (Stephen G. Peterson, conductor) – 12 April 2018
  • University of Delaware Wind Ensemble (Lauren Reynolds, conductor, Emily Smith, graduate conductor) – 6 December 2017
  • State University of New York, Fredonia, Concert Band (Tiv Cumberbatch, conductor) – 14 November 2017
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Stephen W. Pratt, conductors) – 7 November 2017

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Copland, A.; Singleton, K. (2002). The Promise of Living: From The Tender Land [score]. Boosey & Hawkes: New York.