Promise of Living, The (tr Hile)

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Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland (tr. Hile)

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Subtitle: From The Tender Land

General Info

Year: 1954
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The name Aaron Copland (1900-1990) is synonymous with American classical music. His most popular works, Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, Rodeo, Fanfare for the Common Man, and El Salon Mexico, each infused a sense of folk music with his distinctive compositional style that was able to connect with a wide audience. Although written later than the aforementioned works, The Promise of Living is representative of this same distinctive Copland style. The work serves as the final movement of an orchestral suite Copland based on his opera The Tender Land.

This beautiful piece is quite transparent and chamber-like at its outset. As the work builds, Copland dramatically introduces the folk song Zion’s Walls and begins to alter the feel between duple and triple quite frequently. The melodies intertwine and overlap as the piece builds to its striking climax.

- Program Note by McCracken Middle School Symphonic Band concert program, 18 December 2013

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


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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  • Waubonsie Valley High School (Aurora, Ill.) Band (Mark Duker, conductor) – 6 May 2017 (2017 Illinois SuperState Concert Band Festival)

Works for Winds by This Composer


None discovered thus far.