1953 January 20

No “Leftist” Music at the Inaugural


On this day, organizers of President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration cancelled plans for a performance of composer Aaron Copland’s classical orchestral work, Lincoln Portrait, at the ceremony. Copland is one of America’s most noted composers, but he had been active in left-wing politics, and the inauguration’s organizers did not want to be associated with him. Later in 1953, in fact, he was called to testify about his political beliefs and associations by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

Copland was inspired early in his career by the famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz to create music that would “express the ideas of American democracy.” He is particularly famous for “Appalachian Spring” (1944) and “Fanfare for the Common Man” (1942).

Learn more: Howard Pollack, Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man (1989)

Listen to Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait,” with Henry Fonda and James Earl Jones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ut99hSClJV4

Learn more about President Eisenhower: Stephen E. Ambrose, Eisenhower (1983)

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!