A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Fanfare

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FANFARE. A French term of unknown origin—perhaps Moorish, perhaps onomatopoeic—denotes in strictness a short passage for trumpets, such as is performed at coronations and other state ceremonies. In England they are known as 'Flourishes,' and are played by the Trumpeters of Her Majesty's Household Cavalry to the number of eight, all playing in unison on E♭ trumpets without valves. The following, believed to date from the reign of Charles II, is the Flourish regularly used at the opening of Parliament, and was also performed at the announcement of the close of the Crimean War, the visit of the Queen and Prince of Wales to St. Paul's after the Prince's recovery, and so on:—

{ \time 4/4 \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical \key ees \major \relative e' { ees4.\f g16-. bes-. ees8-. bes-. g-. ees-. bes'-. \times 2/3 { bes16 bes bes } \times 2/3 { bes8 g8. bes16 } bes2 | ees,8..[ ees32] g16.[ g32] bes16.[ bes32] g16.[ g32] ees16.[ ees32] bes4 | r ees8 ees16 bes ees8-. ees-. \times 2/3 { ees16 ees ees } ees-. bes-. | ees4 r8 \times 2/3 { ees16 ees ees } g8-. \times 2/3 { ees16 ees ees } ees8-. \times 2/3 { ees16 ees ees } | bes'8 \times 2/3 { g16 g g } g4 r8 ees ees ees16 bes | ees8 ees2 r8 r4 \bar "||" } }

2. So picturesque and effective a feature as the Fanfare has not been neglected by Opera composers. No one who has heard it can forget the effect of the two flourishes announcing the arrival of the Governor in Fidelio, both in the opera and in the two earlier overtures. True to the fact, Beethoven has written it in unison (in the opera and the later overture in B♭, in the earlier overture in E♭, with triplets). Other composers, not so conscientious as he, have given them in harmony, sometimes with the addition of horns and trombones. See Olympie; Struensee, Act 2; Hamlet, Tabl. a, Sc. i, and many more. A good example is that in Tannhäuser, which forms the basis of the march. It is for 3 Trumpets in B:—

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \time 4/4 \key b \major \relative f' { r8 fis16_"1." fis fis8 fis fis fis fis fis | << { fis8 dis fis b dis4 <fis dis>8. <fis dis>16 | <fis dis>4 dis8. dis16 dis4 b | cis2 } \\ { dis,8_\markup { \halign #2 2. } b dis fis b4 b8._"3." b16 b4 <b fis>8. <b fis>16 <b fis>4 <fis dis> fis2 } >> } }

A fine Fanfare for four trumpets, composed by Mr. Waterson,[1] Bandmaster of the 1st Life Guards, is played as a dirge at the funerals of that Regiment. Weber has left a short one—'kleiner Tusch'—for 20 trumpets in C (Jähns's Thematic Cat. No. 47 A). [ Tusch.]

3. The word is also employed in a general sense for any short prominent passage of the brass, such as that of the Trumpets and Trombones (with the wood wind also) near the end of the 4th movement in Schumann's E♭ Symphony; or of the whole wind band in the opening Andante of the Reformation Symphony.

4. A Fanfare differs essentially from a Call or Signal. [Signal.]

[ G. ]

  1. To whom I am indebted for much information.