Aaron Copland (1900–1990) wrotes this work in 1949 in response to a commission from the National Broadcasting Company, who wanted something to mark the United Nations’ adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights. In its original form it was for narrator and orchestra; the composer himself made this organ arrangement in 1953. The stark, arresting opening leads to gentle, sustained music that could be the work of no one but Copland. A section in D major, directed to be played dolce cantabile, contains a broad, chorale-like melody which, after further gentle, sustained music, is heard, fortissimo, in E flat major. The music broadens and concludes majestically in C major.
from notes by Relf Clark © 2006