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fanfares 

opus number
Burghauser catalogue number
167 
composed
30 April 1891 
premiere - date and place
15 May 1891, Prague
premiere - performer(s)
main key
C major
instrumentation 4 trumpets, timpani
duration
approx. 1 min. 


Dvorak wrote Fanfares for four trumpets and timpani for the opening of the Provincial Jubilee Exhibition organised in Prague in 1891 to mark the 100th anniversary of the first industrial exhibition in 1791. This spectacular event, a patriotic demonstration of the extremely high standards of the Czech economy, was attended by two and a half million people. Antonin Dvorak was elected honorary chairman of the exhibition’s music division and was approached to compose a ceremonial fanfare. On the day of the exhibition’s opening, 15 May, the Fanfares rang out from Prague’s turrets and towers at six in the morning; that same day they were played at the gala opening of the exhibition from the gallery of the entrance gate to the area now known as the Prague Exhibition Grounds, which was previously part of the Royal Enclosure (Stromovka); and the Fanfares were also played at other festive occasions during the exhibition. In contrast to Dvorak’s manuscript notation, which envisages the use of four trumpet players, their number was increased during the exhibition to sixteen. What’s interesting about the Fanfares is that the basic timpani figure is almost the same as the Czech children’s nursery rhyme “Hey, hey, the cows are coming our way” which, in view of the text, cannot be seen as intentional. The melodic outline of the first few bars of the Fanfares is also almost identical to the Austrian imperial anthem, written by Joseph Haydn (Haydn later used this melody as the main theme in the second movement of his String Quartet Op. 76, No. 3). Writer Ignat Horica described the gala opening of the exhibition in the following words: “At eight minutes after the tenth hour, from the battlements of the main gate, came the pleasing and ceremonial sound of fanfares which were greeted by deafening cheers from the vast crowds down below, who had gathered in the open space in front of the exhibition. The fanfares were composed by Maestro Dr. Ant. Dvorak specifically for this occasion, and they were also performed, just for the exhibition festivities alone, by sixteen trumpeters and one timpanist. The sound of the fanfares filled those assembled with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and triumph, and drove the people’s enthusiasm towards a state of emotional fervour.”