Because of its military background the fanfare has been around in famous historical moments for thousands of years. Different bugle players and horn players have left their mark on our history by playing at some of the most momentous times, from important battles to coronations of kings and queens.
It seemed applicable that we should celebrate some of the famous fanfares and the people who played them down the centuries. Some are more famous than others and some have remained relatively unknown, but their deeds have been written down for posterity.
The Trumpeter of Krakow
In Polish history in the city of Krakow there was a famous trumpeter that lived in 1241. And today many visitors to this ancient city head to the old Market Square and to the church of St. Mary. Every hour there is a bugle call but it is strangely truncated.
The reason for this rather short fanfare is supposed to be because the trumpeter who was trying to sound the alarm to the people of the city that the Tartar hordes were invading was shot with an arrow and died. His name was Hejnal Mariacki and in 1927 Polish national radio decided to play a live rendition of the fanfare every day at noon.
Fanfares have been played for thousands of years mostly in military connotations, but before then fanfares were used for many other reasons. And fanfares have been played on all manner of instruments from animal horns to carved pieces of wood.
The trumpet has been a popular instrument for playing fanfares for centuries, and it has a long and colorful history starting as an important way for the ancient Egyptians and Greeks to communicate. It was much further on in history that it was actually considered as a musical instrument.
And it is generally accepted that trumpets or their forebears were little more than signaling devices and were used more for sheer noise than musical merit. There was an instance back in 1475 at the famous wedding of George the Rich that one hundred fifers and trumpeters were employed to play a fanfare. The noise was so loud that the wedding party and guests could not hear each other talk.
Aaron Copeland was famous for composing the classic Fanfare for the Common Man, however, there have been many modern composers that have also written music for fanfares that show just how versatile this form of music can be. Among some of the very best are:
- Arthur Bliss – The Royal Fanfares
- Paul Dukas – Fanfare La Peri
- Benjamin Britten – Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury
- Andre Jolivet – Fanfare Narcisse
- Richard Strauss – Festmusik der Stadt Wien
- Harrison Birtwhistle – Tate Modern Fanfares
These great pieces of music were mostly written for special occasions such as royal weddings, the opening of art galleries, newly written operas, and even ballets. These marvelous modern compositions highlight that the fanfare is still very much as part of modern day music in its many different genres.