Music is one of the most important and most powerful human inventions. Period.
Its presence in our lives begins by the time we are still hopeful embryos, with the funky maternal heartbeat, and will only end with the funeral march.
Only Music has the power to break into our mind and body through the ears, the skin, and shake our atoms – which stood calm, quiet, vibrating at a ‘comfortable’ frequency – in such a way that our slumbering emotions must wake up. In a flash, our feelings become audible and, why not, also visible: love, anger, sadness, joy, fear, horror, happiness, victory, in short, the whole bunch that eventually make up our sensory repertoire.
Mind and body, irresistibly accept its influence, harmonize with the melody and that’s it! Your mood changes forever! Like flowers that appear out of nowhere in the hand of the magician, a bouquet of emotions arises immediately and takes over the listener. And then, there’s no way to resist, you start dancing. You may do it just in this inner hall of yours inside your head, in thoughts, memories, or you just let your body go, using all the space you have available in the universe, translating what you feel in leaps, twirls, pas-de-deux, pas-de-trois, pas-de-infinite a ‘shake baby, shake’ in your apathy. It’s a phenomenon that transcends the physical and Physics.
In fact, dear listeners, the idea here is, besides talking about the influential art form that music is, always show compositions which have Man (species, of course …) as their main theme*.
And as every premiere asks to ‘sound the trumpets announcing the good news’, I am pleased to present the ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’, by Aaron Copland, here performed by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of James Levine.
This theme was written in response to the US entry into World War II and was inspired in part by a famous 1942 speech where vice president Henry A. Wallace proclaimed the dawning of the “Century of the Common Man”.
Conductor Eugene Goossen, who had ordered it, wrote Copland: “Its title is as original as its music, and I think it is so telling that it deserves a special occasion for its performance. If it is agreeable to you, we will premiere it 12 March 1943 at income tax time”. Copland’s reply was “I [am] all for honoring the common man at income tax time”.
Let this then be a salute to us, forever common men and women. Good hearing.
*Suggestions are welcome.