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Observations placeholder

Copland, Aaron – Threnodies – 02 Beatrice Cunningham



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: Two Threnodies for Flute and String Trio (1971)

Aaron Copland (1900-1990): Two Threnodies for Flute and String Trio (1971) --- Paul Lustig Dunkel, flauto: Nicholas Kitchen, violino; Wilhelmina Smith, violoncello --- I. In Memoriam: Igor Stravinsky II. In Memoriam: Beatrice Cunningham

Threnody No.2: In Memoriam Beatrice Cunningham for flute, violin, viola, and cello (1973)

Beatrice Cunningham was a former fashion model for Vogue . At a time when there were few women at senior levels within television, Cunningham worked as an Associate Producer on the Wisdom series from 1954–8, filming not only Marcel Duchamp but also Eleanor Roosevelt, Jawaharlal Nehru, David Ben-Gurion, Igor Stravinsky and Pablo Picasso.  She was a friend of numerous artists and musicians and a genuine friend.


The source of the experience

Copland, Aaron

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps