Carlos Conducts the Brass Section
March 4, 2022
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)— Fanfare for the Common Man (1942)
Composed for four french horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, percussion and timpani
Performance length: approximately 4 minutes
In the summer of 1942, the world was embroiled in some of the darkest days of World War II. The United States had only recently become drawn into the war, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra music director, Eugene Goosens, approached Aaron Copland about writing a fanfare to inspire the American people and support the burgeoning war effort. Goosens felt that Copland, as the “dean” of American composers would be the perfect candidate to capture both a spirit of optimism and to inspire Americans in the war effort.
Copland agreed and attempted a few drafts of a fanfare with working titles such as “Fanfare for a Solemn Ceremony” and “Fanfare for Four Freedoms” before settling on “Fanfare for the Common Man” which Copland himself said he was inspired to do because “—it was the common man, after all, who was doing all the dirty work in the war and the army. He deserved a fanfare.”
Premiered in November of 1942, the fanfare was a rousing success, inspiring just the sort of reaction from audiences that Goosens and Copland hoped for. The fanfare has gone on to become an iconic piece of American musical literature, inspiring classical and non-classical musicians alike to study and incorporate it’s memorable writing into their own work. Progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer popularized the work to their audiences in the 1970’s while Copland himself even re-used the melody as part of his Third Symphony (1946.) John Williams borrows much of the influences of Copland’s heroic writing for the fanfares he has composed for the Olympics in recent decades.
Giovanni Gabrieli (1557 – 1612) Canzon per sonar septimi toni a 8, Canzon per sonar duodecimi toni a 10, Canzon in Double Echo a 12
The organist and composer Giovanni Gabrieli occupies a unique place in the history of western music. Nestled between the musical idioms of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, Gabrieli is arguably the most well-known musician of that era. His expertise in polyphonic and counterpoint writing led to the implementation of many innovations in musical theory. His writing, with its frequent use of fugues and toccatas, was meant to aid his audience’s worshipful experience and help them experience transcendence.
In 1597 Gabrieli published a collection of forty-five vocal works and sixteen instrumental pieces as Sacrae symphoniae. The three pieces you will hear tonight were originally all published as part of that work.
Percy Grainger (1882 – 1961) Lincolnshire Posy (arranged by Timothy Higgins, 2008)
Commissioned by the American Bandmasters Association Lincolnshire Posy was premiered at the ABA convention in 1937 with the Grainger conducting. The six movements are all based on folk songs that the composer collected. Grainger’s settings attempt to depict the singers from whom he collected the songs. Since its premiere, it has been recognized as a cornerstone of the wind band repertoire.
Grainger wrote this explanation of the work:
“Lincolnshire Posy, is a bunch of ‘musical wildflowers’ (hence the title) is based on folksongs collected in Lincolnshire, England, and the work is dedicated to the old folksingers who sang so sweetly to me. Indeed, each number is intended to be a kind of musical portrait of the singer who sang its underlying melody – a musical portrait of the singer’s personality no less than of his habits of song – his regular or irregular wonts of rhythm, his preference for gaunt or ornately arabesqued delivery, his contrasts of legato and staccato, his tendency towards breadth or delicacy of tone.”
Kerry Turner (born 1960) Casbah of Tetouan
The Casbah of Tetouan was first conceived during a summer visit to Morocco. The composer offers his own words about the experience:
“As we crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and first laid eyes on the North African coast, I knew we were in store for an adventure! The city of Tetouan was our destination; we were soon standing before its main gates. As we entered the city, our senses were overrun by the many exotic new sights, complementing the wild sounds and smells of the bustling ancient city. After proceeding only a few feet past hobbled live chickens, we found ourselves immersed completely in the endless, tiny alleys of the Casbah. It was a labyrinth of tunnels and passageways, lined with vendors and shops the size of walk-in closets. Anything could be had, including copperware, sacks of spices and grains, and silk. Street butchers displayed slaughtered lambs, goats and pigs, and a snake charmer with his cobra unnerved the unwary passerby. Somewhere around the urine-treated leather goods things began to swim before my eyes. After I informed the guide that I was ill, a young boy was sent to escort me to a quiet place. The boy knew every secret passage and shortcut in the Casbah. He led me through even tinier streets and tunnels, across nomad camps, and even through a kitchen! We sailed through the back door of a mosque, and out the other side. Finally we entered a large, dark and cool house, which seemed to be some sort of palace. The boy led me to a back room and laid me down upon a bed of large pillows. I passed out. I awoke thoroughly disoriented. The first things I saw were six elaborately cloaked elderly men, wildly discussing in Arabic what could possibly be wrong with me, I heard exotic music and aromatic food assailed my senses. After closer observation I discovered I was in a fancy restaurant, being entertained by a belly dancer. Somehow my wife and brother found me and we resumed our inspection of Tetouan. I still felt lightheaded and rather doped by the “therapeutic” tea; my impressions of the city were somewhat hallucinogenic.”
Paul Dukas (1865 – 1935) La Peri: Fanfare
Best known for his fantastical The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, (1897), Paul Dukas was famous during his lifetime as a music critic and teacher as well as composer, having served as a professor at the Conservatoire de Paris and across France. Notoriously self-critical, he destroyed many of his unfinished works and other compositions he considered sub-par in the last years of his life.
His ballet La Péri was his final large-scale work. He very nearly destroyed it as well, but it was saved at the insistence of his friends. The one-act work, dedicated to the French dancer Natalia Trouhanova, La Péri was based on a Persian folk story of a prince who seeks the flower of immortality (a lotus) and falls in love with a sleeping fairy (the eponymous peri).
Dukas wrote the fanfare to La Péri at the last minute, after he had finished the ballet and it was about to be premiered. Scored for brass choir, it is written in three parts—with a grandiose and powerful opening, a softer and more introspective midsection, and a final return to the initial fanfare.
Joan Tower (born 1938) Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman
Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman is a series of six short compositions, each of them part of one 25-minute composition. Parts I, II, III and V are scored for brass, Parts IV and VI for full orchestra.
The first (and most popular) of the Fanfares was commissioned by the Houston Symphony as part of the orchestra’s 1986 Fanfare Project. It was inspired by Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and employs the same instrumentation while adding the glockenspiel, marimba, chimes, and drums. The fanfare is dedicated to the conductor Marin Alsop.
The second Fanfare, written in 1989, was commissioned by Absolut Vodka and premiered at the Lincoln Center in 1989. It was performed by the Orchestra of Saint Luke and is about 3 minutes and a half minutes long.
The third Fanfare was commissioned by Carnegie Hall in 1991 in commemoration of its 100th anniversary. It premiered by the Empire Brass and members of the New York Philharmonic brass section.
The fourth Fanfare, written in 1992, is the only one in the series scored for full orchestra where the brass does not dominate. The piece was commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony.
The fifth Fanfare was written in 1993 and was commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival and is dedicated to conductor JoAnn Falletta.The sixth Fanfare was written in 2016 for full orchestra, commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Caleb Hudson (born 1988) White Rose Elegy
A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Caleb Hudson plays trumpet with the Canadian Brass as well as assistant professor of trumpet at the University of North Texas. Caleb composed his White Rose Elegy for the Canadian Brass. The following explanation of the work is taken from their website:
“In 1942, five University of Munich students and one professor, Hans Scholl, formed a clandestine, non-violent Nazi resistance movement known as the ‘White Rose.’ Over the span of nine months, the White Rose published and widely distributed six anti-Nazi leaflets calling on the German people to join the resistance. They were eventually caught and swiftly executed in 1943, but Hans Scholl and the others remain iconic and cherished figures.”