According to Copland, the piece was "an attempt to mirror the troubled main character of Irwin Shaw's play", who had abandoned his Jewishness and his poetic aspirations in order to pursue material success by Anglicizing his name, marrying a rich socialite, and becoming the president of a department store.
The man, however, was continually recalled to his conscience by the haunting sound of his brother's trumpet playing. Continuing the assessment in his own autobiography, Copland observed that "Quiet City seems to have become a musical entity, superseding the original reasons for its composition", owing much of its success to its escape from the details of its dramatic context.
Arranged for Symphonic Band by Donald Hunsberger with optional parts for solo Oboe or Solo Soprano Saxophone.
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