Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Olympic Fanfare

All of Chicago is talking about the Olympics coming in 2016. At this time, Chicago is just a contender; the decision will be made on October 2, 2009.
But that hasn't stopped our enthusiasm about the Games, so this Spring we'll be playing "Olympic Fanfare" by Leo Arnaud, transcribed for handbells by Robert C. Currier.

Americans all consider this piece to be synonymous with the Olympics Games. The timpani introduction, the brass section proudly stating the theme, the middle bridge section that reminds us of atheletes moving faster than we could previously imagine. Of course, like all iconic Americana, we tend to embellish the story about the song, adding details that should be true, even if they're not.

First, the Olympic Fanfare is not the Olympic Anthem. The Olympic Anthem was written for the 1896 Olympics, the first Olympic games of the modern era.
Arnaud wrote "Bugler's Dream" as part of a larger work in 1957. For the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France, ABC chose the the piece as their anthem, embedding it into the minds of Americans, as we listened every night for two weeks every four years.

Secondly, many people would say that the piece was written by John Williams, famed erstwhile director of the Boston Pops. Traditionally, each host country commissions a new song to represent the games that year. Williams was commissioned for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and wrote "Olympic Theme and Fanfare." In 1992, Williams re-recorded the piece, replacing the first section with Arnaud's theme, merging the two together.

Once ABC lost their exclusive rights to the Olympic broadcast in 1988, Americans missed the chance to hear the song before and after every commercial while watching the games in Seoul. But in 1992, NBC revived the piece for their coverage of the Barcelona Olympics. NBC continues to use both "Bugler's Dream" and "Olympic Theme and Fanfare" in their Olympic coverage.

The music reminds us of the spirit as well as the spectacle of the Olympics, and Chicago Bronze is pleased to bring it to you this year, in anticipation of the Olympic Games in Chicago.

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