Aaron Copland was born on November 14, 1900, in Brooklyn, New York, to Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. Growing up in a modest environment, Copland's exposure to music began at an early age when his older sister introduced him to classical piano pieces. Recognizing his talent, his family arranged for piano lessons, setting the stage for his future musical pursuits. After completing high school, Copland studied composition in Manhattan with the renowned composer Rubin Goldmark. He then traveled to France, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger, who profoundly influenced his compositional style and encouraged him to draw inspiration from his own American heritage.
Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov was born on January 13, 1866, in Voina, a small village in the Oryol region of Russia. Born into a peasant family, Kalinnikov's talent for music was recognized early on. Despite the financial challenges his family faced, they encouraged his musical pursuits. At the age of nine, he started playing the balalaika and later joined the village church choir, where his musical abilities blossomed. His talent soon caught the attention of Alexander Kopylov, a prominent conductor and composer, who arranged for Kalinnikov to study at the Moscow Conservatory. Under the tutelage of renowned composers such as Sergei Taneyev and Anton Arensky, Kalinnikov honed his skills and developed a deep appreciation for Russian folk music and the works of Tchaikovsky.