• Blurring the Border: Copland, Chávez, and Pan-Americanism

      Mugmon, Matthew S.; Sierra, Candice Priscilla; Brobeck, John T.; Rosenblatt, Jay M. (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Aaron Copland (1900-1990) is widely recognized for his unmistakably “American sound.” Scholarly discourse surrounding Copland’s compositional and aesthetic style focuses on various sources ranging from his studies in Paris, to European modernism, to jazz. Surprisingly, though, much of this discourse omits the considerable impact on Copland by his contemporary, the composer Carlos Chávez (1899–1978) and his native Mexico. This thesis argues that Copland’s relationship with Chávez was a driving force behind the formation of Copland’s identity as an American composer. Details of their vast correspondence reveal the significant extent and impact of their friendship and professional collaboration. Copland’s first visit to Mexico at the request of Chávez can be viewed as a catalyst for the significant period of success beginning in the 1930s with the publication of El Salón México. And while their shared philosophy that music should be accessible to the public aligned their professional and artistic goals, their compositions also bear specific similarities in style, texture, and harmonic color—notably, jagged rhythms, angular phrases, and the frequent use of quartal and quintal harmonies; such similarities are found in Copland’s Short Symphony and Statements for Orchestra and Chávez’s Horsepower Suite and Sinfonía India. This thesis thus calls for a reexamination of the significance of Copland’s and Chávez’s lifelong friendship and of modernist trends of Pan-American music in the twentieth century, all in an effort to further understand the role played by Latin American music in the development of music in the Americas.