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Copland, Aaron – Threnodies – 01 In Memoriam Igor Stravinsky



Type of Spiritual Experience


From the website Gay Influence

Although Copland was alarmed by Victor Kraft’s behavior, he did not break off all communication after Kraft left him. Although Copland made sure Kraft was kept from high profile events, such as Copland’s presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and various Grammy Award ceremonies, Copland remembered Victor’s positive influence on his music and life in their early years together. Most biographers agree that Copland’s feelings of guilt over his constant humiliations and betrayals of Kraft prohibited a clean break from each other.

Copland’s musical inspiration seemed to dry up as difficulties continued to plague his personal life. Nevertheless, he and Kraft continued to travel together and maintain sexual relations. After Kraft separated from his second wife, Copland traveled with him on trips to Israel and England. Six years later Kraft died of a heart attack while vacationing in Maine in 1976. He was sixty years old.

Upon Victor’s death Copland was devastated and entered into a period of clinical depression. He looked after Victor’s son and even paid for the boy’s tuition at a private school. As for Copland, major recognition continued to come his way – the Kennedy Center Honors in 1979 and a Medal of the Arts from Ronald Reagan in 1986 – but Copland had written his last great music well before Kraft’s death. Copland also ceased his pursuit of young men, likely because of guilt over the humiliating affairs that lead to Victor’s tragic demise.

When Copland died fourteen years after Kraft, there were great tributes and accolades that flooded the press. No public mention, however, was made of Victor Kraft. Every news source referred to Copland as a lifelong bachelor, when in fact he had been one of the first prominent homosexual composers to live openly with a male partner.

A description of the experience

Aaron Copland - Threnodies for flute, violin, viola and cello. 1st Threnody

A . Copland (1900-1990) Threnodies for flute, violín, viola and cello -Threnody I: In Memoriam Igor Stravinsky

Eva Álvarez (flauta) Iván López (violín) Rubén Menéndez(viola)Javier Albarés(cello) Ciclo de Música de Cámara de la Orquesta de RTVE Concierto celebrado el día 18 de Febrero de 2012 en el Teatro Monumental de Madrid Chamber Music Concert. Members of RTVE Orchestra in Teatro Monumental, Madrid.


A threnody is a wailing ode, song, hymn or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person. The term originates from the Greek word θρηνῳδία (threnoidia), from θρῆνος (threnos, "wailing") and ᾠδή (oide, "ode"), the latter ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *h₂weyd- ("to sing") that is also the precursor of such words as "ode", "tragedy", "comedy", "parody", "melody" and "rhapsody".

Copland was deeply affected by the deaths of his friends or those who inspired him.  He wrote at least three such memorial pieces

  • Threnody No.1: In Memoriam Igor Stravinsky for flute, violin, viola, and cello (1971)
  • Threnody No.2: In Memoriam Beatrice Cunningham for flute, violin, viola, and cello (1973) and
  • Night Thoughts: Homage to Ives for piano

Threnody No.1: In Memoriam Igor Stravinsky for flute, violin, viola, and cello (1971)

Stravinsky was a devout member of the Russian Orthodox Church during most of his life, remarking at one time that, "Music praises God. Music is well or better able to praise him than the building of the church and all its decoration; it is the Church's greatest ornament".

Copland named Igor Stravinsky as his "hero" and his favourite 20th-century composer.

The source of the experience

Copland, Aaron

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