Image of Copland's <i>Canticle of Freedom </i> Copland's Canticle of Freedom
Canticle of Freedom

For the 1955 dedication of Eero Saarinen’s landmark buildings—the MIT Chapel and Kresge Auditorium— MIT celebrated with a Fortnight Festival (April 30 to May 14). The highlight of this event was the world premiere of Aaron Copland’s Canticle of Freedom. MIT commissioned this work at a time when Copland was under a great cloud of political suspicion. His famous A Lincoln Portrait had been withdrawn from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inaugural concert, and many believed he was a communist sympathizer. Canticle of Freedom was his first major piece following the FBI’s retraction of his blacklisting status. Copland used the words from a poem written around 1375 by the Scottish poet John Barbour to extol the virtues of freedom and make a not-so-subtle point. Klaus Liepmann, MIT’s first full-time music professor, conducted the MIT Choral Society, Glee Club, and Symphony Orchestra on this memorable occasion of art, architecture, and politics.

Exhibited:
Canticle of Freedom, Sound Recording
Aaron Copland
1955
Recording courtesy of MIT Lewis Music Library.

photo: MIT Museum Collections

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