Copland played the piano solo in the premiere of his "Jazz Concerto" with Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Scored for large orchestra, the instrumentation includes alto and soprano saxophones and extra percussion. The Concerto is in two sections reflecting what Copland considered the two basic moods of jazz — "the slow blues and the snappy number." Copland's parents came from Brooklyn to Boston for the premiere, and Copland wrote, "I was delighted when Ma said it was her proudest moment and that my playing in the Concerto made all those music lessons worthwhile!" The critics panned the piece, and it retained a reputation as a shocker until Bernstein revived it in 1946 with Leo Smit at the keyboard.
Aaron Copland rehearsing the Piano Concerto with André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra, 1970. (Photo: Victor Kraft)