Fanfare: A musical causerie

(London, 1921-1922)

Prepared by Liesbeth Hoedemaeker
Online only (2011)

The fortnightly musical periodical Fanfare [FAN] was published in London in seven issues from October 1, 1921 to January 1, 1922 by Goodwin & Tabb Ltd. Although the journal was rather short-lived, it made its mark in musical history owing to the original contributions of well-known composers and writers on music and the attention all gave to contemporary music and art. In addition, the journal is remembered for very short original compositions entitled “fanfares,” written by leading composers of the early 1920s.

Concerning the title, Leigh Henry, the editor, wrote “Does not the word “Fanfare” suggest something stirring, brilliant, joyous, exciting, something which preludes future? ... We blow our own trumpet openly. We are simply the heralds of a new era.” The slogan of the Fanfare is “We like its sound and we like it’s sound!” Leigh Henry (1889-1958), was a prolific and well-known English critical writer on music, and an occasional composer. For Fanfare he contributed articles including “Music and the Modern Intimate Trend,” dealing with condensed forms and simplified means in composition and poetry, “Men-in-the-Street,” explaining the differences between the terms form and formality, and “Contemporary Music and the Russian Stimulus” provided by new Russian composers. He wrote for many music journals, among them The Chesterian, The Monthly Musical Record and Musical Opinion. Henry’s published books include Music: What it Means and How to Understand it (London, 1920); The Growth of Music in Form and Significance (1921).

Contributors include the avant-garde French artist and writer Jean Cocteau, who wrote about Erik Satie and the composers members of “Les Six”; the Viennese composer and writer Egon Wellesz, who dealt with musical form and reported on musical life in Vienna; the composer Francis Poulenc who wrote about chamber music for strings by Stravinsky, Bartók and Malipiero. Erik Satie gave his thoughts on truth in art, while Norah Drewett reported on the musical life of Berlin. The articles show a great diversity of topic including Flamenco music; the poetry of the Bolshevik régime; African primitive instrumental music; the Russian singer Mme Lopokova and Tolstoy’s opinions on art and music.

Remarkable are the short original compositions in the form of fanfares that one finds throughout the journal by well-known composers: Manuel de Falla's Fanfare pour une fête and Erik Satie's Sonnerie pour reveiller le bon gros Roi des Singes. British composers who contributed fanfares include Arnold Bax, Arthur Bliss, Granville Bantock, Joseph Holbrooke, Ernest Bryson and Havergal Brian. Moreover, the covers were individually designed for Fanfare by different contemporary artists who signed themselves as Ethelbert White, the initials B. M., William Roberts, D’Amar, Randolph Schwabe, Alan Odle and Edward McKnight Kauffer. Illustrations include caricatures of British, French and Austrian composers including Arthur Bliss, Gustav Holst, Eugène Goossens, Egon Wellesz, Georges Auric and Erik Satie. Spasmodic inclusion of poems and drawings on contemporary themes heighten the aura of the 1920s.

Fanfare was incorporated in February 1922 with The Musical Mirror to form The Musical Mirror and Fanfare.