Every important composer produces little pieces to go along with the great masterworks. Sometimes these chips from their workbenches are tossed off as jokes, written for friends, or written for particular occasions. Often they are forgotten, but Igor Stravinsky's Fanfare for a New Theater, a work for two trumpets only 30-some seconds long, immediately gained recognition as an important work despite its slender dimensions.
It typifies the canonic textures that appear in the twelve-tone music Stravinsky wrote during the post-1950 period. This music tends to be condensed, often made up of a succession of very short movements. This single movement has some kinship with the trumpet calls that open the late ballet Agon. It is a strictly serial work, consisting of a few transmutations of a basic note row. The mood is brisk, and the rows take the two trumpets through a variety of different musical intervallic relationships with each other.
Stravinsky wrote it for the opening ceremonies of the newly built New York State Theater, one of the edifices in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on New York's west side. This theater was to be the home of the New York City Ballet, and Stravinsky, accordingly, dedicated it "To Lincoln and George," meaning the company's administrator, Lincoln Kirstein, and its legendary choreographer (and Stravinsky's longtime friend) George Balanchine.