Friday, June 29, 2012

Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

A part of me is still sad about writing Copland's death date as I remember when he passed away. I had heard many of Copland's works prior to hearing this one for the first time and I enjoyed them, though they were my absolute favourite works on the face of the planet.

But then there was this one. I'm sure most of you have heard it. Perhaps multiple times as it's incredibly popular.

I still remember the first time I heard this work. It was almost 22 years ago now and I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was November 17, 1990. We were in Indianapolis, on the floor of the Hoosier Dome. All of the bands' performances were over and we were lined up at "retreat," an absolutely torturous thing wherein you have to stand out on the field, silent and at attention while waiting for the results that could mean you came in dead last or could mean you came in first place...and you cannot (or should not!) move a muscle no matter what happens. TORTURE. I tell you.

Anyway...all of a sudden the whole place was plunged into darkness. You really have NO idea what it's like being in such a huge Dome like that and suddenly have the place completely pitch black. We had no idea what was going on. It was unnerving and frightening and HUGELY dramatic.

And then The Fanfare for the Common Man began. And all of the colorguard members of all of the groups marched out with a big light show around them as a tribute to Copland, who had died earlier that year. It was amazing. And still to this day if I hear the work I sit up a little bit straighter and feel incredibly proud (this was the year our band one first in our class and got medals! like we were in the Olympics!).

Anyway, this work was written in 1942 by quintessential American composer Aaron Copland. It was partly inspired by a speech by the Vice President about the dawning of the century of the common man.

You can listen to it here.

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