Copland repeatedly denied affiliating knowingly with communists and said he withdrew from some organizations when they were branded as communist-controlled. Copland said he signed many petitions in support of liberal causes, but told McCarthy that his involvement was superficial.
"I spend my days writing symphonies, concertos, ballads, and I am not a political thinker," he said.
Copland was called to testify because he had been hired by the State Department to lecture overseas, and he complained at the hearing about having to appear just days after receiving a subpoena.
Copland seemed to take that period of his life in stride.
"I became a victim of a political situation," he said in his memoirs. "I tried to carry on as usual. But I lost a great deal of time and energy [not to mention lawyers' fees] preparing myself against fictitious charges.
"It was not a happy time. What can one do but go through it and carry on."
Copland declined to discuss McCarthy in the interviews with Perlis.
"He was just very proud of his honesty and his integrity, and I think he was very hurt by the whole thing," Perlis said.
Three months after the hearing, Copland again denied being a communist in an affidavit submitted with a passport application. The statement went against information provided by the government informants, and formed the basis of the FBI's perjury and fraud investigation.
Copland had said he began cutting his ties to leftist groups after learning that some of them might be "communist or communist front." This may explain why the FBI ultimately dropped the perjury investigation.
In December 1955, Assistant Atty. Gen. William Tompkins concluded in a memo that there was "insufficient evidence to warrant prosecution."