American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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Appalachian Spring

Martha Graham and Erick Hawkins in Appalachian Spring
Martha Graham (1894-1991) and
Erick Hawkins (1901-1994) in
premiere of Appalachian Spring, October 30, 1944

Copyprint from original negative
Music Division
Acquired by the Coolidge Foundation as part of the terms of the commission, 1944 (166)

This photograph was taken at the first performance of Appalachian Spring in the Library's Coolidge Auditorium on the eightieth birthday of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, who had commissioned a score from Aaron Copland to accompany modern dance choreography by Martha Graham. Copland, originally titling the piece "Ballet for Martha," drew on the traditional Shaker composition "Simple Gifts." Graham incorporated characteristic American gestures into her unique dance vocabulary. Together, Copland and Graham ushered an American vernacular into the fine arts.

 

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