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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Copland, Aaron, 1900-1990-Political activity, Concert tours-Political aspects-South America, United States-Foreign relations-South America, South America-Foreign relation-United States, Copland, South America, Music, Politics


This thesis is an investigation of Aaron Copland's State Department-sponsored tour of South America in 1941. Although Copland would again travel to the continent in later years, this paper argues that his first tour was crucial both for himself and, more importantly, for the United States government. The ramifications of the trip would extend into the political, musical, and cultural realms. Because the trip took place on the eve of the U.S. entrance into World War II and during the worldwide struggle with Nazism, it gained much of its significance from its political and historical context. The examination of Copland's journals and newspaper articles he wrote about the trip makes it increasingly clear that he was reluctant to admit that the trip had substantial political value; despite discussing certain political elements, such as government involvement in the arts, he claimed that the tour was a purely musical endeavor. Although the trip was also musically significant, this study will attempt to demonstrate that it was primarily a political and cultural undertaking, in that it aimed to promote and strengthen democracy in South America. In addition, this study will attempt to prove that Copland, who was politically active throughout his life, willingly and eagerly took on the political aspects of the trip.




116 p. Honors project-Smith College, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 112-113)