In 1861 American composer and organist, John Knowles Paine (1839–1906) composed the Concert Variations on “The Star Spangled Banner,” Op. 3, No. 2. It is paired as Opus 3 with a set of “Concert Variations on the Austrian Hymn” (Op. 3, No. 1) and thus links the musical traditions of the New World with the Old.
Like most American classical musicians of the era, Paine had finished his artistic training in Europe (in his case in Berlin). Upon his return to the United States, he settled in Boston and worked as an organist at West Church. He offered free music appreciation classes and was soon appointed to the faculty at Harvard University, making him the first-ever music professor in U.S. history. He would become a founding member of the American Guild of Organists.
Organist Dr. Andrew Meagher, a University of Michigan graduate and student of the legendary Marilyn Mason, here performs Paine’s patriotic celebration on the Frieze Memorial Organ (1893–) in Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan.