Smithsonian Collections

Aaron Copland

Image for Aaron Copland
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition Label
In the course of his musical career, Aaron Copland distinguished himself as a conductor, teacher, and critic. But his greatest accomplishments by far were in the field of composing. Long regarded as the dean of American composers, Copland received his training in Paris. His grounding in European music, however, did not diminish his interest in exploring the musical styles and traditions of his own country. In fact, his compositions drew much of their inspiration from American sources, ranging from jazz to cowboy ballads to New England hymns. Copland’s prodigious output included operas, ballets, choral pieces, film scores, and symphonies. Among his best-known works are Appalachian Spring (1943), a ballet commissioned for Martha Graham’s dance company, and his Third Symphony (1944–46), which conductor Serge Koussevitsky called the “greatest American symphony.”
Karsh responded warmly to Copland, observing, “There was about him a certain candour and friendliness that endeared him to me at once.”
Yousuf Karsh, 23 Dec 1908 - 13 Jul 2002
Aaron Copland, 14 Nov 1900 - 2 Dec 1990
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh
Gelatin silver print
Image: 17.9 × 21.6 cm (7 1/16 × 8 1/2")
Sheet: 35.4 × 27.5 cm (13 15/16 × 10 13/16")
Mount: 40.7 × 33 cm (16 × 13")
Mat (Karsh exhibit): 55.9 × 40.6 cm (22 × 16")
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
Music\Sheet music
Aaron Copland: Male
Aaron Copland: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Aaron Copland: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Conductor
Aaron Copland: Pulitzer Prize
Aaron Copland: Oscar
Aaron Copland: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Aaron Copland: Congressional Gold Medal
Restrictions & Rights
© Estate of Yousuf Karsh