Aaron Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man

By the time he reached the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1931, Eugène Goossens (not to be confused with his violinist father Eugène Goossens or his conductor Grandfather Eugène Goossens) had already made his name as conductor of his own orchestra and, before that, as assistant conductor to Thomas Beecham at the Queen’s Hall Orchestra.

It was only natural, some years into his tenure with Cincinnati, that his thoughts should drift to his own conducting legacy with his American band. It was for the 1942 and 1943 seasons that Goossens commissioned several prominent composers to provide concert fanfares, to be played at various subscription concerts across the two years. Among others, Walter Piston, Paul Creston, Darius Milhaud, Virgil Thomson and Morton Gould all provided works, starting with Bernard Wagenaar’s A Fanfare for Airmen in October 1942 and ending with Fanfare for the Merchant Marine in April 1943, which was Goossens’ own effort.

The fifteenth fanfare, premiered on 12 March 1943, by Copland, is the only one still in the repertoire today. Scored originally for horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba and percussion, Copland used it just three years later as the theme for the last movement of his Symphony No 3.

Recommended Recording
New York Philharmonic Orchestra; Leonard Bernstein (conductor). Sony: SMK63082.