Asking Whether Copland’s Abstruse Works are the Exception or the Rule

English: Aaron Copland

Source: The New York Times.

But when Copland’s music graced a CBS broadcast a half-century ago, it was in an entirely different idiom. For the 1962 televised gala celebrating the opening of the Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center — now David Geffen Hall — the composer provided his first 12-tone piece for orchestra, the snarling and cacophonous “Connotations.”

At intermission, the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, approached him. Stunned, she simply said: “Oh, Mr. Copland. Oh, Mr. Copland.” A nationwide audience of millions watched the broadcast, and both the orchestra and the network were subsequently inundated with letters from viewers outraged by this densely avant-garde music.