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Fanfare for the Common Man is a 20th-century American classical music work by American composer Aaron Copland. The piece was written in 1942 for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under conductor Eugene Goossens. It was inspired in part by a famous speech made earlier in the same year where vice president Henry A. Wallace proclaimed the dawning of the "Century of the Common Man". Several alternative versions have been made and fragments of work have appeared in many subsequent US and British cultural productions, such as in the musical scores of movies.
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 18 fanfares 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 the Second World War and was inspired in part by a famous 1942 speech where vice president Henry A. Wallace proclaimed the dawning of the "Century of the Common Man".
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. Goossen 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".
The fanfare has found much use as a theme for television programs. In the United States, it was used on the television program "You Are There" in its later years during the show's closing credits. Emerson, Lake and Palmer's arrangement of Fanfare for the Common Man was the opening theme song for the CBS Sports Spectacular. In Mexico, it was the main title theme of TV Azteca TV sport program DeporTV. In Scotland, the BBC used it as the theme to their main news program Reporting Scotland in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Australian television network Seven Network used it in the 1980s and early 1990s as the theme music for Seven Sport broadcasts, and continued to use a teaser version up until 2011. An early 1980s Canadian television series called "Titans" used Fanfare as its opening theme music.
In the early 1980s when Channel 0/28 (now SBS One) would begin transmission for the night, they would use the Aaron Copland version as their opening theme. It was also used as the opening theme for the network's very first night of transmission.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Channel 3, the English language television channel operated by oil company Saudi Aramco in Dhahran, KSA, used the fanfare as their opening and closing theme. The channel broadcast American and British television shows and films.
During the 1980s, the Nine Network televised a lifestyle program call "World of Boats" (later to be broadened and called "World of Leisure") hosted by Chris Conroy which used the Emerson, Lake and Palmer version as the theme for the program.
In the mid-1990s, the piece was used as background music in United States Navy recruitment advertisements.
On January 18, 2009, it was played at the beginning of We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. It was also played at the beginning of "An American Reunion", the concert (also at the Lincoln Memorial) on the Saturday prior to the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1992.
Several feature films employ the piece for dramatic effect. John Williams' original score for Saving Private Ryan draws heavily on its soundworld (though Copland's piece is not actually heard in the movie). The fanfare functioned as Jimmy King's theme in Ready to Rumble. The Bollywood film Parinda prominently features the piece as background score, including in a haunting opening depicting shots of Bombay.
The first three notes of the piece are coincidentally the same as the sound made by motors of the MR-73 class of cars on the Montreal Métro as they leave the station and accelerate. "Fanfare for the Common Man" was one of the musical themes for Expo 67, which was held in Montreal.
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Copland's fanfare was used in 1977 by British rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer on the album Works Volume 1. The track became one of the band's biggest hits when an edited version was released as a single that year. It peaked at No. 2 in the UK. Keith Emerson had long been an admirer of Copland's Americana style, previously using Copland's Hoedown on the band's Trilogy album in 1972.
The American rock band Styx has also used the Copland piece. Their 1972 eponymous debut album opens with a suite called Movement for the Common Man. The third section of the suite, titled Fanfare for the Common Man, is loosely based on the Copland original.
Additionally, the rock band Asia (which shares the drummer Carl Palmer from Emerson, Lake & Palmer) often plays a variation of "Fanfare" during their live shows. Different versions have appeared on various live Asia albums over the years as well.
Bob Dylan has also opened his shows with "Fanfare for the Common Man".
On January 12, 2011, the piece opened "Together We Thrive: Tucson and America", the memorial service for the victims of the 2011 Tucson shooting following the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of six others.
Formula 1 Theme on Rede Globo in year 70/80 in the version of ELP.
The Israeli foreign affairs TV show Roim Olam used the ELP version in its opening title.
In the 1990s the fanfare began to be used to welcome the winner of the Aintree Grand National Steeplechase from the racecourse to the winner's enclosure as the timing of the piece roughly matched the time it took the winner to make the journey. When the enclosure was moved in 2010 the fanfare was used instead to announce the procession of competitors from the paddock to the course before the race.