The Cat and the Mouse

Aaron Copland

The Cat and the Mouse

About this work

Of the many benefits Aaron Copland gained as part of his studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, perhaps none was as valuable to his fledgling career than the exposure and personal contacts afforded by living and working in a city that was secure as the cultural capital of Europe. At a concert of student works -- including his own -- the young Copland was approached by Jacques Durand of the prominent music publishing firm Durand. Durand offered to publish a short piano work of Copland's that was featured on the program; The Cat and the Mouse thus became the first of many works by the composer which came to comprise an important and distinguished body of music for the piano.

The Cat and the Mouse is delightfully literal: scurryings up and down the keyboard depict the mouse, while quiet chords assume the character of the cat stalking its prey. The mouse's music alternates more rapidly with that of the cat as the chase presses on, until the musics overlap. In five dramatic chords, the cat pounces, dirge for the poor mouse -- apparently caught and eaten -- follows. Nevertheless, a final, unexpected mischievous scamper suggest that the mouse may have survived to someday lead yet another chase.