The Fourth of July is upon us, and with it come the fireworks and in normal years the parades and the concerts. This year Boston's Hatch Shell on the Esplanade will be quiet. There will be no orchestra will be there to entertain the joyful crowd, so we'll have to rely on pre-recorded music. Here's a list of streamed audio recordings to get you started! Music for the Fourth of July., opens a new window
Concerts like the one held in Boston every year inevitably start with our National Anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner." We all know that the words to the song were written by Francis Scott Key, but fewer people know much about the melody. John Stafford Smith is credited with the music, though the melody is based on a different song that was popular at the time: "To Anacreon in Heaven.", opens a new window This song was sung in taverns in England. It was the theme song of the Anacreon Society, a music club for gentlemen in London. If you want more information about "The Star Spangled Banner," you are invited to look through this scrapbook, opens a new window that the library made for the song between the 1920s and 1950s. Check out this video about "To Anacreon in Heaven" made by the American Heroes Channel.
Charles Ives' "Fourth of July" is part of the composer's larger work, The Holidays, a four movement symphonic work. Each work is about a specific American holiday. While Ives' piece would be rarely played at Fourth of July celebrations, it features snippets of songs that do figure into many concerts played for the holiday, including "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean," "Yankee Doodle," "Battle Cry of Freedom," and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." "Fourth of July" is meant to paint the picture of a Fourth of July celebrated in New England as seen through the eyes of a boy who lives in a small town. There's a parade and fireworks, and everything is going on at once. There is so much going on, in fact, that when the piece is performed more than one conductor is required!