The Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Aaron Copland—composer of songs such as Fanfare for the Common Man—was a big fan of Emily Dickinson's. He created vocal and piano arrangements for twelve of Dickinson's poems. The first was performed in 1950.
When the American composer, musician, and educator Leo Smit read the works of Emily Dickinson, he declared that he had found "a soulmate who answered my emotional needs and stimulated my musical desires."_CITATION35_ Already a fan of Aaron Copland's arrangement of her poems, Smit composed six song cycles referencing more than 80 of Dickinson's poems, together known as The Ecstatic Pilgrimage.
Ernst Bacon was an American composer who often turned to the nation's great poets for inspiration. Emily Dickinson was an obvious choice. Bacon set several Dickinson poems to music, as well as excerpts from her diary.
Composer Jules Langert created a song cycle based on three Emily Dickinson poems. The poems are "Much Madness Is Divinest Sense," "The Spider Holds a Silver Ball," and "The Heart Asks Pleasure First."
This arrangement for voice and piano was inspired by a letter that Dickinson wrote to her childhood friend Abiah Root in 1850. The young women traded many letters over the years.
Artist Michael Gordon composed this multimedia work in homage to Emily Dickinson. It includes vocal performances of poems such as "The Soul Selects Her Own Society," as well as chamber music and visual dramatics.