TOWER Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman



Joan Tower

Composed In



3 mins


3 trumpets, 4 horns, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, timpani, percussion


Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman is a series of six short compositions. Part I to Part 5 of this series was composed by Tower between 1986 and 1993 and Part VI was composed in 2016, 29 years later.


About the Composition

This piece is a series of 6 composition:

Fanfare No. 1: This first and most popular of the Fanfares was inspired by Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. This Fanfare features an opening flourish, huge percussion strokes and then a galloping rhythm that pushes through the rest of the piece to reach the conclusion. This Fanfare is dedicated to women who take risks and who are adventurous.

Fanfare No. 2: This second fanfare employs the same instrumentation as the first fanfare but with some additional percussion. This work is dedicated with love and admiration to Joan Briccetti, general manager of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Fanfare No. 3: This third fanfare is scored for two brass quintets that are partially antiphonal. There are motifs that are tossed back and forth, between the two horns and the four trumpets, and between the two quintets.

Fanfare No.4: This forth fanfare was the only one in the series scored for full orchestra and the brass does not dominate. However, it qualified as a fanfare because of its propelling rhythms and sheer energy.

Fanfare No. 5: This fifth fanfare begins with a trumpet solo announcing a motif that the others take up. The music then becomes more animated before returning briefly to the initial, quiet and less rhythmic introductory music. Approaching the end, music becomes more joyful and radiant.

Fanfare No. 6: This fanfare was performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Marin Alsop, who recorded all five of Tower’s fanfares. This work is dedicated to “the intrepid Hillary,” former Secretary of State and 2016 Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Joan Tower

Fun Facts about the Composer

  1. Tower was the first woman recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Music in 1990 for her composition Silver Ladders.
  2. Tower was lauded by The New Yorker as “one of the most successful woman composers of all time”
  3. Tower’s Made in America won 3 Grammy Awards: in the categories Best Orchestral Performance, Best Classical Album and Best Classical Contemporary Composition.
  4. Tower was pianist and founding member of the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players from 1696 to 1984.
  5. Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today.

Recommended Recording

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on print