Appalachian Spring, with music by Aaron Copland and choreography by Martha Graham, counts among the best known American contributions to the global concert hall and stage. Commissioned as a dance work by the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation in July 1942, it was premiered on October 30, 1944, at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Since then, it has become one of Copland’s most widely performed scores, and the Martha Graham Dance Company still treats it as a signature work. Over the decades, the dance and the music have taken on a range of meanings that have transformed a wartime production into a seemingly timeless expression of American identity, both sonically and visually.
This book by distinguished musicologist Annegret Fauser offers a concise and lively introduction to the history of the work, its realization on stage, and its transformations over time. It recounts the creation of Appalachian Spring as a collaboration between three creative giants of twentieth-century American art: Graham, Copland, and Isamu Noguchi. And it follows the work from its inception in the midst of World War II to its intersections with American culture up to the present day, whether in the form of choreographic reinterpretations or musical adaptations.
This companion website serves as a guide to major digitized sources relating to the genesis and initial performances of Appalachian Spring in 194445. Most of these documents are preserved in the collections of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.