Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Fanfare for the Common Man

First performed by Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Aaron Copland (1943).
Hit version by Emerson, Lake & Palmer (UK #2 1970).

(Above: Aaron Copland conducting the London Symphony Orchestra)

From the wiki: “‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ was written on request from Eugene Goossens, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, in response to the US entry into the Second World War. During the First World War, the Cincinnati orchestra had asked British composers for a fanfare to begin each orchestral concert. It had been so successful that Goossens thought to repeat the procedure in World War II but with American composers.

“In 1942, Copland was commissioned by Goossens to write the fanfare. Copland recalled he was inspired by a speech US Vice President Henry A. Wallace had given that spring at the Free World Association in New York City:

“‘Some have spoken of the American Century,’ Wallace proclaimed. ‘I say that the century on which we are entering, the century which will come out of this war, can be and must be the century of the common man.’

“‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ premiered on March 12, 1943, in observance of income tax time — something every ‘common man’ has to endure. Since then, it has been performed for presidents, played to honor victims at the opening of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and has lent a sense of gravity to television sports broadcasts (especially the Olympic Games) and news programs. Copland later used the fanfare as the main theme of the fourth movement of his Third Symphony.

“In 1970, British progressive rockers, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released a rock arrangement. Palmer says bandleader and keyboard player Keith Emerson once met with Aaron Copland in Switzerland and played him a bit of their version to ask for the composer’s blessing. ‘We were a little bit worried about playing him the actual rock section of it where we were ad-libbing and having some fun,’ Palmer says. ‘And he thought it was OK! … He said, ‘At least you’ve done something different with it — that works for me. Go ahead, guys, I wish you the best of luck with it.’ ‘”

Emerson, Lake & Palmer, “Fanfare for the Common Man” (1970):

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