But there's another Copland, one who even during his career was considered a musical radical. Bruce Brubaker, who performs three piano compositions by Copland at the Sheldon Concert Hall next week, says this of one of the works, the lengthy, challenging "Piano Fantasy": "Copland really viewed the composition as going out on a limb, and I think it's true. It was viewed at the time as a very radical piece. It's almost a 12-tone piece. He felt he was doing something pretty far out. People received it that way, too. In the early performances of the piece, people asked, "What's Copland doing? This is the guy that wrote that music we liked?'"
Copland's "Piano Variations" and "Piano Sonata" are also part of the program. "When you hear these three piano pieces next to each other, it really packs a wallop," Brubaker says. "I think the "Variations' and the "Sonata' are really first-class pieces, but the "Fantasy' is a work that goes way beyond that. It's fair to say it's a work of genius. Yet it's a piece that nobody plays. How could we be sitting on this amazing piece? It's a very important part of the American piano repertoire of the last 100 years."
Brubaker, as a musician and a teacher, is committed to expanding the piano repertory, and an evening of the other Copland is part of that mission. "Copland's mis-served by the way most of us think about him. Ultimately, he was somebody who worked very widely. It's such a plurality of styles, which maybe makes him even more of an American composer, because isn't that what America is all about?"