NPR logo Copland's 'Fanfare for the Common Man'


Copland's 'Fanfare for the Common Man'

Hear 'Fanfare for the Common Man'

Only Available in Archive Formats.

Aaron Copland's 'Fanfare for the Common Man' was initially one of 10 composed for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1942. hide caption

toggle caption

Hear Copland's 'Symphony No. 3'

  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Among the greatest composers America has produced, Copland developed a spare, open orchestral sound that was used so effectively by himself and others that it has come to be identified with the style of American music in general. Ned Rorem, who studied with him at Tanglewood, recalled, "Aaron brought leanness [in musical scoring] to America, which set the tone for our musical language throughout the war. Thanks largely to Aaron, American music came into its own."

This brief but stirring work was one of ten fanfares commissioned by conductor Eugene Goossens for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The year was 1942, and Goossens' aim was to foster patriotic spirit during World War II. Though the other nine fanfares have dropped from sight, Copland's remains securely in the active repertoire, doubtless due in part to its all-embracing title, but also because of the nobility of its theme. Three years after its composition, Copland took up the fanfare once more, elaborating it and incorporating it into the finale of his Symphony No. 3.

All text courtesy program notes for 'A King Celebration' from the Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, Ga.