Fanfare For the Common Man

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1a short and lively sounding of trumpets

2a showy outward display


Given the definition, it should not be surprising that this piece includes a short and lively sounding of trumpets.

For more on the piece, let us look at Wiki:

Fanfare for the Common Man is a musical work by the American composer Aaron Copland. It was written in 1942 for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under conductor Eugene Goossens and was inspired in part by a speech made earlier that year by then American Vice President Henry A. Wallace, in which Wallace proclaimed the dawning of the “Century of the Common Man”.

Several alternative versions have been made and fragments of the work have appeared in many subsequent US and British cultural productions, such as in the musical scores of movies.

This fanfare is written for the following instruments:

Copland, in his autobiography, wrote of the request: “Eugene Goossens, conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, had written to me at the end of August about an idea he wanted to put into action for the 1942–43 concert season. During World War I he had asked British composers for a fanfare to begin each orchestral concert. It had been so successful that he thought to repeat the procedure in World War II with American composers”. A total of 10 fanfares[1] were written at Goossens’ behest, but Copland’s is the only one which remains in the standard repertoire.

It was written in response to the US entry into World War II and was inspired in part by a famous 1942 speech[2] where vice president Henry A. Wallace proclaimed the dawning of the “Century of the Common Man”.[3]

Goossens had suggested titles such as Fanfare for Soldiers, or sailors or airmen, and he wrote that “[i]t is my idea to make these fanfares stirring and significant contributions to the war effort….” Copland considered several titles including Fanfare for a Solemn Ceremony and Fanfare for Four Freedoms; to Goossens’ surprise, however, Copland titled the piece Fanfare for the Common Man. Goossens wrote, “Its title is as original as its music, and I think it is so telling that it deserves a special occasion for its performance. If it is agreeable to you, we will premiere it 12 March 1943 at income tax time”. Copland’s reply was “I [am] all for honoring the common man at income tax time”.[4]

Copland later used the fanfare as the main theme of the fourth movement of his Third Symphony (composed between 1944 and 1946).

Copland is one of my favorite composers and this short and showy bit of music is one of my favorite classical pieces. He might be the quintessential “American” composer. More on Copland, below:

Aaron Copland (/ˈkoʊplənd/KOHP-lənd;[1][2] November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990) was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later a conductor of his own and other American music. Copland was referred to by his peers and critics as “the Dean of American Composers“. The open, slowly changing harmonies in much of his music are typical of what many people consider to be the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit. He is best known for the works he wrote in the 1930s and 1940s in a deliberately accessible style often referred to as “populist” and which the composer labeled his “vernacular” style.[3] Works in this vein include the ballets Appalachian SpringBilly the Kid and Rodeo, his Fanfare for the Common Man and Third Symphony. In addition to his ballets and orchestral works, he produced music in many other genres, including chamber music, vocal works, opera and film scores.

After some initial studies with composer Rubin Goldmark, Copland traveled to Paris, where he first studied with Isidor Philipp and Paul Vidal, then with noted pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. He studied three years with Boulanger, whose eclectic approach to music inspired his own broad taste. Determined upon his return to the U.S. to make his way as a full-time composer, Copland gave lecture-recitals, wrote works on commission and did some teaching and writing. However, he found that composing orchestral music in the modernist style, which he had adopted while studying abroad, was a financially contradictory approach, particularly in light of the Great Depression. He shifted in the mid-1930s to a more accessible musical style which mirrored the German idea of Gebrauchsmusik (“music for use”), music that could serve utilitarian and artistic purposes. During the Depression years, he traveled extensively to Europe, Africa, and Mexico, formed an important friendship with Mexican composer Carlos Chávez and began composing his signature works.

During the late 1940s, Copland became aware that Stravinsky and other fellow composers had begun to study Arnold Schoenberg‘s use of twelve-tone (serial) techniques. After he had been exposed to the works of French composer Pierre Boulez, he incorporated serial techniques into his Piano Quartet (1950), Piano Fantasy (1957), Connotations for orchestra (1961) and Inscape for orchestra (1967). Unlike Schoenberg, Copland used his tone rows in much the same fashion as his tonal material—as sources for melodies and harmonies, rather than as complete statements in their own right, except for crucial events from a structural point of view. From the 1960s onward, Copland’s activities turned more from composing to conducting. He became a frequent guest conductor of orchestras in the U.S. and the UK and made a series of recordings of his music, primarily for Columbia Records.

If you would like to hear Fanfare For the Common Man, I have embedded a video of a performance below: