The Great Composer Quiz – Austere City Man Yearning for the Country Life.

Aaron Copland in his austere younger years.

The Great Composer who paid $8.50 a month for a loft in NYC, which wasn’t much even in the 1930s (about $60 in 2021 cash), but then again it was “a dismal sanctuary,” according to his friend and fellow composer David Diamond. The answer is Aaron Copland. One day he would acquire his “place in the country,” an hour north of New York City, in the lower Hudson River Valley, on three acres of land on a rocky hill top overlooking the hamlet of Cortlandt Manor. The prairie-style country house was built in 1940, just as Copland was producing his great trilogy of ballets: Billy the Kid, Rodeo and Appalachian Spring. He bought the property in 1960. By then, Copland was commonly referred to as “The Dean of American Composers.”

Copland House, Rock Hill, Peekskill, New York. For details about residencies and events, go to

He lived and composed here the last three decades of his life but never produced anything as rich in carefree Americana as his three great ballets. According to present day caretakers of The Copland House, it is “spacious yet unassuming, and reflects Copland’s rugged elegance and natural dignity.” The structure has been named a National Historic Landmark.