Some wise words from Aaron Copland to a young Leonard Bernstein. They maintained a close friendship and correspondence for decades, and I like the advice. It reminds me of a word from a father to a daughter in an American novel: ‘Slow down, Ivy, slow down.’ Copland seems to be inviting Bernstein to relax a little, to take a longer view, allowing that it is ‘only’ 1938 and humankind has a way to go. There’s something generous in this perspective of Copland’s. And if perspective, perspective, perspective proves elusive, simple curiosity about the world should mitigate ‘disappointment’ in it.
As for your general “disappointment” in Art, Man and Life I can only advise perspective, perspective, and yet more perspective. This is only 1938. Man has a long time to go. Art is quite young. Life has its own dialectic. Aren’t you always curious to see what tomorrow will bring?
Source: Aaron Copland, letter to Leonard Bernstein, 23 March 1938, in Nigel Simeone ed., The Leonard Bernstein Letters (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), p. 20
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