For the festivities accompanying the centennial of the Statute of Liberty, the Statute of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation commissioned John Williams to write a fanfare to be performed at the televised ceremonies on July 4, 1986.
Prior to the work’s premiere, Williams told Richard Dyer that it is “about five minutes long, and it has a one-minute detachable frontpiece that will be the signature music for all of the ABC presentations connected with the Fourth of July. I’ve tried to create a group of American airs and tunes of my own invention that I hope will give some sense of the event and the occasion.”
Williams conducted the Boston Pops in the first public performance of the fanfare on June 4, 1986. A month later, he led the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra in the work as part of a live national telecast.
Reviewing the Boston performance, Anthony Tommasini wrote that “as fanfares go, [it] is a humdinger. It’s got two great tunes: a brassy and boisterous fanfare riff, all roulades and flourishes and forward motion; and a long-lined tune for hushed-up strings that sounds like lots of others Williams has composed for Hollywood, but still gets you right in the back of the throat.”
The score of the work calls for two flutes, piccolo, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, piano and strings.
Williams recorded his Liberty Fanfare with the Boston Pops in May or June of 1986 before the public premiere, a recording released on the 1987 CD By Request The Best of John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra (Philips 420 178-2).
The fanfare has been recorded several other times, including a second recording by the Pops, under the direction of Keith Lockhart, on their 1999 album Splash of Pops (RCA/BMG 09026 63516 2).
- “Getting ready for a big date,” Richard Dyer
The Boston Globe, April 22 1986
- “Liberty Fanfare premieres at Pops,” Anthony Tommasini
The Boston Globe, June 5 1986