The representatives for the use of music in Aaron Copland’s estate say that they are reviewing Donald Trump’s team’s use of the late composer’s Hoe-Down in a video that touted his administration’s accomplishments.
The music was featured in the campaign-like spot that the president posted on Monday.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2020
Copland, who died in 1990, bequeathed a large part of his estate to the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, which operates grant programs and gives the greenlight for the use of his music via classical music publisher Boosey & Hawkes.
“The Aaron Copland Fund for Music does not permit the use of Copland’s music in any form of political advertising, and neither the Copland Fund nor Boosey & Hawkes were asked for permission before the video was posted,” said Carol Ann Cheung, a spokesperson for the publisher.
Cheung said that they are “reviewing the matter and will be taking appropriate steps.”
It was unclear if Trump’s team sought another avenue for the use of the work. Spokespersons for the Trump campaign and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hoe-Down has been one of Copland’s most popular works since it debuted in 1942 as part of his ballet Rodeo. The music is instantly recognizable and was heard on a commercial for the Beef Council, as it conjures up wide open spaces of the American west.
Trump’s use of music has been a flashpoint throughout his campaigns. Groups like the Rolling Stones and the family of Tom Petty have objected to the use of their works, albeit in certain instances the campaign has obtained a blanket license to play music in public venues.
During his life, Copland was known for his progressive views and was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare of the 1950s. In fact, his Lincoln Portrait was to be performed at Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inauguration in 1953, but was pulled in the face of objections to the composer’s liberal politics. But Copland eventually was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, and his music is now recognized atop all American classical music and has inspired composers including John Williams. A variation of his work Simple Gifts was played for President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.