Scholars and the general public have long acknowledged Aaron Copland’s attraction to Latin America, noting his associations with several composers from that region and his Latin-themed works such as El salón México, Danzón cubano, and Three Latin-American Sketches. Between 1932 and 1972, Copland made eight visits to Latin America, four as a cultural diplomat under the auspices of the U.S. State Department (1941, 1947, 1962, 1963). His cultural diplomacy in Latin America remains largely unexamined, however, despite the rich trove of materials in the Aaron Copland Collection of the Library of Congress. Here we find the diaries Copland kept during these visits, his reports for the State Department, correspondence with Latin American musicians, concert programs of his performances, reviews of his works from Spanish- and Portuguese-language presses, and scripts of the radio broadcasts he gave in various Latin American capitals.
Carol Hess is Professor of Music at the University of California, Davis. Her most recent book, Representing the Good Neighbor: Music, Difference, and the Pan American Dream, was published by Oxford University Press in fall 2013.