As a resource for our Banner Moments Summer Scholars, the Star Spangled Music Foundation is honored to offer this free audio download of one of our unique teaching tools. This special educational file combines our world-premiere recording of the original version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” printed by Thomas Carr in the fall of 1814, with the source tune of the melody — “The Anacreontic Song,” written in London in 1775/76. When you play the file, “The Anacreontic Song” (accompanied by harpsichord) is heard first and “The Star-Spangled Banner” (accompanied by fortepiano) begins at 0:59.
To download your recording now, just click the word “download” on the Soundcloud widget below (it may take a minute to arrive and should open a new window and if you have iTunes will play automatically).
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<click “download” above for your own copy or click here for other download options>
Your “Anacreon – 1814 SSB Educational Combo” Recording
“The Anacreontic Song” (also known as “To Anacreon in Heaven” or just “Anacreon”) was the club anthem of an amateur musicians society and supper club in London, England known as The Anacreontic Society. The music to this song was written by John Stafford Smith — an English organist and composer.
When lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key was held aboard his own ship for two days after the Battle of Baltimore, he drafted “The Star Spangled Banner” (originally titled “In Defence of Fort McHenry”) to tell the tale of the surprising victory of the combined American forces and local militias that turned back the British advance at this climactic moment of the War of 1812 between Britain and the young United States. Only weeks before, these same experienced British troops had captured Washington, D.C. rather easily, and burned the U.S. Capitol and the President Madison’s house to the ground! Key’s lyric expresses both his relief and his pride.
It should be pointed out that Key had this melody in mind when he first wrote the poem, so the words are most accurately referred to as a lyric rather than a poem because the words were always intended to be sung.
As you’ll hear, the music of the two songs is all but identical. Note that in 1814 “The Star-Spangled Banner” was a bit different than what we sing today. Most significantly, it is faster as it is not yet a national anthem, but is a celebratory victory song. It became famous pretty quickly and was widely reprinted as lyrics in newspapers.
Enjoy the recording with compliments of the Star Spangled Music Foundation. You are free to use it in your teaching. Rather than giving duplicates of the file to others, please refer your friends and colleagues to our site to register as a Star Spangled Teacher themselves. We want to build our network so that we can share future instructional materials with you as they become available.
For more history of these songs, visit:
ADDITIONAL DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS
If you prefer you may choose one of the larger, higher quality audio formats below. To download Control-Click (Apple) or Right Click (Windows) the links below and choose “Save Target As.” Your recording should begin downloading immediately at no charge. Download times will vary by speed of your connection and the size of the file you choose.