Fanfare music has been around as long as the bugle has existed, and it has not just been for a short blast of celebration. There have been some great classic fanfare pieces of music throughout the ages and to select just five is really difficult, but here are our recommendations.
Short Ride in a Fast Machine
This piece has been called a fanfare for the orchestra and the composer has described Short Ride in a Fast Machine as a mistaken ride in a friend’s truly fast car that you really wish you had not taken. John Adams is renowned for his minimalist composing, even in his larger works and operas. And this piece incorporates a blaring brass section that raises the roof.
Fanfare for the Common Man
Fanfare for the Common Man was a commissioned piece of work that was part of eighteen fanfares. Aaron Copland composed them for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and each piece of the series was to mark a part of the effort that American soldiers were making in WWII.
The piece was heralded as the most famous American fanfare by music publishers Boosey & Hawks with a caveat that Hail to the Chief was omitted.
Sinfonies de Fanfares
Sinfonies de Fanfares was originally written as a set of four fanfares but the other three are mostly ignored in favor of this exciting and popular piece. The BBC’s Masterpiece Theatre was largely responsible for the success of this fanfare, but now it is known all over the world as one of the very best fanfares of all time.
Slightly different that our other fanfares, Sinfonietta is really a military symphony. The piece grew from a selection of fanfares that Janacek was commissioned to write for a competition of gymnastics. It is the first section that features heavily the timpani, tubas, and trumpets that is the best known from the sokol slet.
Fanfares are featured in all sorts of music, from military to classical, and even opera. When Verdi was writing his classic Egyptian opera Aida, he wanted something dramatic to herald in the victorious return of Radamess. And what could possibly be more appropriate than a fanfare.
The Triumphal March is also sometimes just called the Grand March, and opera lovers from around the world can instantly recognize Verdi’s masterpiece just from a few bars of this most triumphant fanfare. It sums up the whole occasion to a tee, and there is no real need for any accompanying text.
In a way it is this scene that is most emotive in the opera, it is where musical directors and set managers can wow their audiences with lavish costumes, set designs, large choruses and sometimes animal wranglers.
By calling these top five pieces of music simply fanfares is not really encapsulating the power and grandeur of the music. The composers have taken an idea and formed it into some of the most magical and memorable music that has ever been written, and the remaining success of these fanfares is their legacy.