January 21, 2018

Thoughts on Copland’s 12-tone pieces: “Inscape” and “Connotations”

For the first time, I listened to Copland’s “Inscape”. This piece to my ear is stronger than “Connotations”, which was written 5 years earlier. Even though it’s not my favorite Copland, it is strong and bold (in the sense of Ruggles), and like Stravinsky, Copland maintains enough of his stylistic elements from the past to still sound like- Copland! In both these pieces, it is curious that the rhythms and meters are not nearly as complex as those elements his earlier works- even pieces like El Salon Mexico and Appalachian Spring (works in his popular tonal style)! Copland seems to concentrate in these 12 tone works entirely on sound, intervals, line, and color. What fascinates me is when tonal composers adapt to an atonal style, and visa versa! (Del Tredici, Rochberg, etc.) Indeed, music history is full of surprises!

About Henry Mollicone


  1. Very insighful observations about Copland & 12 tone. I remember the premiere of Connotations in 1962 at Lincoln Center. Everybody thought it was going to be like Appalachian Spring. After 22 minutes of turgid music Bernstein turned around with a smile on his face and said ‘I think we should hear that again’. And so they did.

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