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"The work was premiered at Richter's school in December, 1938, the same year that Copland completed Billy the Kid. The two pieces share some distinct similarities, especially in the opening fanfare of the Overture. This fanfare, and an extended trumpet solo, are contrasted with a march-like theme and a lyrical melody for strings, all of which are cleverly woven into the final, joyous conclusion.

Copland's contemporary, composer Elliott Carter, wrote that the work "...contains some of the finest and most personal music. Its opening is as lofty and beautiful as any passage that has been written by a contemporary composer."

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