November 14th

Today is the birthday of Astrid Lindgren, born Astrid Ericsson in Sweden in 1907.

She’s the creator of Pippi Longstocking, a nine-year-old girl with no parents who lives in a red house at the edge of a Swedish village with her horse and her pet monkey, Mr. Nilsson. She has red pigtails, and she wears one black stocking and one brown, with black shoes twice as long as her feet. She eats whole chocolate cakes and sleeps with her feet on the pillow, and she’s the strongest girl in the world.

The Writer’s Almanac from American Public Media (2006)

Composer Aaron Copland was born on November 14, 1900, in Brooklyn to Russian-Jewish immigrants.

In 1942, Copland began working with Martha Graham on Appalachian Spring, a ballet that eventually won the 1944 Pulitzer Prize in music. The Library of Congress’s Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation commissioned the work from Graham and Copland. Between July 1942 and July 1943, Graham sent three scripts to Copland. On receiving the third script, Copland wrote the music we know as Appalachian Spring.

Hearing the music, Graham revised the action yet again:

I have been working on your music. It is so beautiful and so wonderfully made. I have become obsessed by it. But I have also been doing a little cursing, too, as you probably did earlier over that not-so-good script. But what you did from that has made me change in many places. Naturally that will not do anything to the music, it is simply that the music made me change. It is so knit and of a completeness that it takes you into very strong hands and leads you into its own world. And there I am.

In the end, no script accompanied what Copland called “Ballet for Martha” and Graham retitled, Appalachian Spring. A splendid collaboration between American masters of music and dance, the ballet premiered at the Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium in 1944.

Library of Congress

First Lady Mamie Eisenhower was born on this date in 1896. She died in 1979.

Joseph McCarthy was born on this date in 1908. Fortunately he died in 1957.

Claude Monet was born on this date in 1840. He died in 1926.

The term “impressionist” is derived from Monet’s painting Impression, soleil levant.

Claude Monet, Impression, soleil levant, 1872
Claude Monet, Impression, soleil levant, 1872