November is a month that requires some hardcore Americana.
For some reason I associate this month with America more than any other. I suppose it is the combination of Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving.
Many countries have independence days but thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday.
Thanksgiving works for almost all Americans.
We can resist the flag waving of the 4th or criticize the materialism/religiosity of Christmas, or wear black on Valentine's Day but who of us can say we should not be thankful for at least one day?
Thanksgiving is our most inclusive holiday and tomorrow is veteran's day, so I have no choice but to listen to "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copland.
Eugene Goosens, director of the Cincinnati Orchestra during World War II, commissioned 16 fanfares. These fanfares were performed at the top of Cincinnati Orchestra concerts and honored the men and women in the war effort.
The titles of these fanfares were somewhat boring and almost have a Stalinist ring to them. Of course, Stalin was an ally at the time.
There was "Fanfare to our Latin-American Allies", "Fanfare for the Signal Corps", and fanfares for France, Russia, Poland, Airmen, the American Soldier, the Medical Corps, etc.
The title "Fanfare for the Common Man" transcends the initial context and at the same time is completely appropriate as common men were the heroes of that generation.
The list of composers involved in the project is impressive: Darius Milhaud, Howard Hanson, William Grant Still, Paul Creston, Morton Gould but Copland's Fanfare is the only one still performed.
The opening crash of cymbals, timpani, and bass drum may be reminiscent of canon fire close by and then subtly in the distance.
The trumpet call that follows is an icon of Copland's musical grammar. It has the ring of simple dignity that we find through out Copland's work.
It is this unassuming, humble, splendor that gives Copland a uniquely American sound.
It is the sound of common men and women performing extraordinary acts of bravery and kindness in the service of others.
We are grateful and thankful.