The Great Crossing

Nostalgia and Manifest Destiny in Aaron Copland’s The Red Pony


  • Beth E. Levy University of California, Davis



Aaron Copland, The Red Pony


This essay explores how music underscores the twinning of nostalgia and the West at key moments, helping to refine the film’s characterization of family relationships and to deepen its message about manifest destiny.

Author Biography

Beth E. Levy, University of California, Davis

Beth E. Levy joined the Music Department at UC Davis in the fall of 2003, after spending one year as a Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the University of Michigan. She received her B.A. in music from Oberlin College, where she completed an honors thesis on chamber music in turn-of-the-century Boston. Her graduate study at the University of California, Berkeley, was supported by fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the American Musicological Society [AMS], Phi Beta Kappa, and Berkeley's Townsend Center for the Humanities. In addition to teaching and giving guest lectures while at Berkeley, she was a Visiting Instructor at the University of Oklahoma School of Music (fall 1999). Professor Levy's dissertation research, on twentieth-century American composers and the mythology of the American West, has yielded journal articles in American Music (2001) and repercussions (1996) and conference papers presented at the national meetings of the AMS and the Society for American Music. She has been an active participant in the California chapters of the AMS, and was the winner of their 2000 Ingolf Dahl Competition. She has also given invited talks at UCLA and Bowling Green State University, and she has written program notes for the Berkeley Early Music Festival and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. She is currently preparing a book manuscript based on her dissertation, and she hopes to follow this work with a book on race in American music criticism. Her other interests include eighteenth- and nineteenth-century aesthetics, reception history, and representations of music in literature.


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How to Cite

Levy, B. E. (2010). The Great Crossing: Nostalgia and Manifest Destiny in Aaron Copland’s The Red Pony. Journal of Film Music, 2(2-4), 201–223.