Fanfare for the Common Man was composed by Aaron Copland for the Cincinnati Symphony 1943 concert season. Eugene Goossens, conductor of the orchestra, sent out a request to a number of American nuvo classical composers asking them for to compose him a fanfare. In Coplands' own words, "The challenge was to compose a traditional fanfare, direct and powerful, yet with a contemporary sound. To this end, I used bichordal harmonies that added 'bite' to the brass and some irregular rhythms."

This piece (also known as Coplands Fanfare) was first performed on March 12, 1943 and has since become one of the most well-known modern classical pieces.

It was also 'covered' later by the '70s group Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP), updated to sound more electronic and given a much harder edge and futuristic tone. Techo-Neo-Classical-Funk, baby!(Mad Props to Chattering Magpie)

Crash of Cymbals
boom boom... boom
boom boom... boom
boom boom... boom

In a world dominated by classic European composers, Aaron Copland stands out as one of the most well known American composers, and Fanfare for the Common Man is one of his best known pieces.

"Fanfare for the Common Man" was written when Eugene Goosens (conductor for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra) asked for musical tributes for those who were in World War II. The fanfare that Eugene had in mind was one that would open his 1942 concert season - a fanfare for soldiers, airmen and sailors. It was to be about 2 minutes long.

ba ba da dah...
dah da dah...
dah dah dah dah

Aaron Copland took up the challenge: The challenge was to compose a traditional fanfare, direct and powerful, yet with a contemporary sound. The work on the fanfare took some time - originally targeted for October it wasn't delivered until November.

Sketches show that Copland worked with several other ideas for the names including "Fanfare for a Solemn Ceremony" and "Fanfare for Four Freedoms". Goosens liked the piece (though puzzled by the name) and suggested playing it at a concert on March 12, 1943. This was three days before taxes were due and tribute was paid to the common man. 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 14 March 1943 at income tax time.

ba ba da
da da dah
da da da
dah dah daahhh...

The arrangement for the fanfare is a 10 piece ensemble with percussion (including a tam-tam). The work is presented as one short movement that lasts between 2 and 3 minutes depending on the conductor.

The song has been played by many ensembles from the U.S. Air Force Band to ELP (though Copland stated that he prefers the Fanfare in its original version), and later incorporated into Aaron Copland's Third Symphony.

Unfortunately, no recording (or even my poor textual representation) can capture the dynamic range of the piece going from very quiet to very loud. It has been said that listening to it at the proper level for the quiet part will damage stereos when the loud segments are played. This is not an issue when heard live.

http://memory.loc.gov/cocoon/patriotism/loc.natlib.ihas.200000006/
http://www.surreybrass.co.uk/Fanfare+for+the+Common+Man.htm
http://www.wwnorton.com/classical/covers/62401.htm (real audio)
http://memory.loc.gov/cocoon/patriotism/loc.natlib.ihas.200000006/loc.natlib.ihas.100010473?profile=manuscriptScore&behavior=contactsheet (manuscript)

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