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Arr. Stravinsky: Star-Spangled Banner

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: arranged by an emigrant “star” of modern music…

In a colorful anecdote from his memoirs, Igor Stravinsky recounted a 1944 performance in BOSTON of his arrangement of the Star-Spangled Banner. His 1941 arrangement, which had been originally performed without fuss in Stravinsky’s adopted home of Los Angeles, didn’t fly so well on the east coast. Supposedly, the Boston police commissioner accused him of “tampering with national property,” and ordered all the orchestra’s parts removed from their stands. If Stravinsky is to be believed, then this may be one of the more under-informed judgments in the history of law enforcement. The music that eventually became the American National Anthem can be traced to a drinking song from the 1760s, by English composer John Stafford Smith, written for the Anacreons, a gentlemen’s social club. National property, indeed!

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