Fanfare for the Common Man

Composed:  1942
Commissioned by: Eugene Goossens for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Premiered:  March 12, 1943 – Cincinnati
Instrumentation:  Horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, tam-tam

Performance Time: 3 minutes 

 

    • During the Second World War Conductor Eugene Goossens commissioned fanfares from American composers to begin each concert of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra ’42-43 season.  Of the 18 compositions only Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man has entered the standard repertoire. 
    • Composed in response to the US entry into the War it was inspired from a speech by Henry Wallace proclaiming the “Century of the Common Man”.

 

  • Previously Copland had considered several possible titles including Fanfare for a Solemn Ceremony and Fanfare for Four Freedoms
  • He used the fanfare as the main theme of the fourth movement of his Third Symphony (1944-66).
  • Little known fact: the sound made by the motors of the Montreal Metro cars as they leave the station and accelerate are identical to the first three notes of Fanfare for the Common Man
  • The piece begins with the percussion setting a sombre almost threatening tone, three trumpets break in with the fanfare theme. Both the flourishes and the sustained melody are taken up and carried through by the remaining brass.

There are many versions available though this version conducted by Copland himself can be considered definitive.

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