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A Majestic Fanfare


ABC: 90 Years of Broadcasting


Held Dearly by Many Australians

It started as a piece of sound-library music and through reworks, remixes and generations of Australians growing up hearing it, the Majestic Fanfare has wedged itself into the Australian consciousness. Written in 1943 by British composer Charles Williams, the Majestic Fanfare wasn't really intended to be a stand-out piece, despite the fancy-sounding name.

The name of the music was about the mood it is meant to conjure, rather than a reflection of the actual instrumentation, as Australian composer and conductor Richard Mills told Libby Gore on ABC Radio Melbourne […] "It was a typical piece of British film library music," he said. "They had vast banks of LPs that had what we call library music on them. It was music that could be used for any occasion, and it was classified by mood."

The ABC started using the Majestic Fanfare as the intro to the radio news bulletins in the early 1950s, replacing the shortened version of Advance Australia Fair that had been used before this. The same music was used before the TV news when the ABC expanded to television broadcasting in 1952 until it was replaced in 1985.

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Mr Mills was asked by the ABC to revive the old-fashioned orchestral fanfare in 1988 for Australia's bicentennial. "I spent two days on it because I had to take it down from a cassette and then rewrite it," Mr Mills told Libby Gore. While the Majestic Fanfare might not be anything special in musical terms, it has become special to many Australians, who shared their stories as the ABC marks 90 years of broadcasting […]. 

(Sources: ABC via Chrissy Brand).