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Classical 101

Music for Labor Day: Fanfare for the Common Man (and Woman)

The Labor Day Holiday weekend usually signals the approaching end of summer.  One instantly recognizable piece of music perfect for the occasion comes from that quintessential 20th Century American composer, Aaron Copland. Fanfare for the Common Man was composed in 1942 for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and its conductor Eugene Goosens, who had written Copland asking for a fanfare to open concerts that season.  This music was also inspired by The United States' entry into the Second World War and a famous speech the same year by the vice president, Henry A. Wallace, in which he proclaimed the dawning of the "Century of the Common Man." Copland gave the piece its title and Goosens approved, deciding to premier it in March of 1943 at income tax time.  The composer thought this was a good idea saying he was "all for honoring the common man at income tax time."  This inspired music also found its way into Copland's Third Symphony several years later as the main theme of the fourth movement. Since then, Fanfare for the Common Man has become widely associated with working people in America in general, and also with their strength and fortitude in challenging and difficult times, making it popular at patriotic events and on national holidays. Since it was written at the request of a British conductor, here's a recent performance from the BBC Proms in London with American conductor Marin Alsop leading the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra : http://youtu.be/ZdqjcMmjeaA