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  • Chris Anderson

Fanfare For The Common Man

When SSOCs starts up again in January 2024, we’ll be taking a more contemporary direction. I thought it might be fun today to look at a piece that was written by our composer of the month, but brought to a modern audience by a prog rock group.


  • Aaron Copland composed "Fanfare for the Common Man" in 1942 during World War II. The piece was originally written as a patriotic response to the United States' involvement in the war. Copland intended it to be a musical salute to the common people and their strength, resiliency, and contributions to society.

  • The composition is relatively short, typically lasting around three to four minutes. It features a brass and percussion ensemble and is known for its bold, fanfare-like sound. The use of brass instruments, such as trumpets and trombones, gives it a majestic and triumphant quality.

  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), a British progressive rock band, covered "Fanfare for the Common Man" in 1977 as part of their "Works Volume 1" album. Their interpretation of the piece is a fusion of classical and rock elements.

  • ELP's version features the distinctive keyboard work of Keith Emerson, the powerful bass and vocals of Greg Lake, and the dynamic drumming of Carl Palmer. They adapted Copland's composition to include synthesisers, electric guitars, and a rock rhythm section, giving it a modern and progressive rock feel.

  • This cover version became one of ELP's signature pieces and a highlight of their live performances. It showcases the band's virtuosity and ability to blend classical and rock music. Their rendition of "Fanfare for the Common Man" captures the grandeur and energy of the original while adding their own unique and electrifying style to it.


ELP's version of "Fanfare for the Common Man" is celebrated for its ability to bridge the gap between classical and rock music, and it remains a memorable and influential piece in the world of progressive rock.

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