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Fanfare For The Common Man : Work information

Aaron Copland ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Donald Johanos (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Fanfare For The Common Man
Work number
1942-00-00 02:00:00

This recording

Christopher Todd Landor, Judith Sherman
Recording date
1967-01-01 02:00:00

The Composers

Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1900. He studied music in his home city and also in Paris with Nadia Boulanger between 1921 and 1924, the first of many Americans to do so. He returned to the United States in 1925, and shortly afterwards, his Symphony for Organ and Orchestra was performed. It was in a brash, modern style which he inherited from Boulanger. He also began to include elements of jazz in his music, and developed a distinctively American style, drawing on folk music and ideas. As well as composing, Copland was heavily involved in composers’ organisations and between 1925 and 1927 held a Guggenheim grant, the first of many awards, commissions, and prizes he received.

Between 1927 and 1937, Copland also taught and lectured at the New School for Social Research, and wrote several books, including Music and Imagination (1952). He appeared frequently as a conductor of his own and other composers’ music. In 1964 he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by the U.S. government.

Copland is perhaps most famous for his superb ballet scores, such as Billy the Kid (1938), Rodeo (1942), and Appalachian Spring (1944), which are all based on American folklore. The last of these finishes with a set of variations on a Shaker hymn. He also composed two operas, The Second Hurricane (1937) and The Tender Land (1954), as well as choral works and songs. 

Copland was also a leading composer of film music, and wrote scores for Of Mice and Men (1939), Our Town (1940), The Red Pony (1948), and The Heiress (1949). His Piano Variations (1930) and Clarinet Concerto (1948), written for jazz clarinettist Benny Goodman, are the most influential of his many solo and chamber works. Outstanding among his orchestral scores are Music for the Theatre (1925), the jazzy Piano Concerto (1927), El Salon Mexico (1936), and A Lincoln Portrait (1942) with spoken portions from Abraham Lincoln’s speeches. Copland's Symphony No. 3 (1946) is one of his most popular works, and incorporates as one of its movements the famous Fanfare for the Common Man (1942).

Related Composers: Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Bernstein, Sessions

Track listing

  • Fanfare For The Common Man 2:58 min


In the early 1940s, Eugene Goossens commissioned a series of patriotic fanfares from American composers to honour men serving in World War II. The fanfares would be performed at Goossens' concerts with the Cincinatti Symphony Orchestra. Copland responded with his Fanfare for the Common Man for brass and percussion. Suggesting the nobility and power of humanity, the work was first performed on March 12 1943. Goossens suggested this would be an ideal moment to honour the common man - it was income tax time!

The Fanfare was later incorporated into the Third Symphony of 1946 and is regularly heard in both versions.