After fighting to a stalemate during the First Battle of Saratoga, the Continental Army won a crucial victory at the Second Battle of Saratoga on October 7, 1777. Ten days later, British General Burgoyne surrendered his army of 6,000, the first large-scale surrender of British forces in the Revolutionary War.
October 1, 2013
Famed American composer and bandmaster John Philip Sousa was appointed director of the US Marine Band on October 1, 1880. Known as the “March King,” Sousa wrote more than 120 marches, including “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” which has served as the national march of the United States for 25 years.
July 30, 2013
The University of Pittsburgh has partnered with the Society for American Music to create lesson plans which analyze famous historical songs. The Voices Across Time series includes more than 60 in-depth lesson plans which combine songs from similar eras and weaves them into thematic units.
July 11, 2013
Today marks the 215th anniversary of the Marine Corps’ re-chartering by Congress, which made the Corps a permanent part of the US military. Throughout its storied history, the Marine Corps is most famous for its valor at the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I, its success at the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, and for its uplifting and patriotic “Marines’ Hymn.”
The stirring “Marines’ Hymn” is the … Read more »
July 2, 2013
From our Independence Day ebook: Read these famous songs of the Revolutionary War period, and learn what role music played in the shaping of the country as it evolved from 13 struggling colonies into a nation. Each song selection includes questions for class discussion.
May 23, 2013
Looking for ideas to remember Memorial Day with your students? Read and listen to two versions of one of the Civil War’s most popular songs, “The Battle Cry of Freedom.” Originally written in 1862 by prolific patriotic composer George F. Root (1820–95), it was so highly demanded that printing presses could not produce enough copies. Ultimately, 500,000 to 700,000 copies were produced.
May 22, 2013
Many cities claim to be the progenitor of Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day. The best claim might be made by Charleston, South Carolina, where, in 1865, 10,000 Charlestonians—many of them former slaves—re-buried the Union dead who had been buried in a mass grave and paraded around the city, with the procession led by 3,000 black children carrying flowers and singing “John Brown’s Body.”
To celebrate Memorial Day’s forgotten roots, our selection today … Read more »
April 26, 2013
“The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was written in 1861 as an abolitionist song by Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910), a prominent American abolitionist and social activist. While witnessing a review of Union troops in Washington, D.C., Howe heard the Union army marching song “John Brown’s Body” set to a tune written by William Steffe (1830–90). The stirring tune inspired her to write new lyrics: this poem came to her … Read more »
April 23, 2013
Did you know that our National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was first published as a poem titled the “Defence of Fort McHenry”? Francis Scott Key (1779–1843), Washington lawyer and amateur poet, was inspired to pen the poem by the unlikely success of American troops resisting the British attack on Baltimore’s Fort McHenry on September 13, 1814, two days after the burning of the capital.
Nearly all American school-children are taught the … Read more »
April 16, 2013
Like yesterday’s poem, “The Man Born to Farming,” Katherine Lee Bates’ “Pikes Peak” (better known as the song “America the Beautiful”) evokes pastoral pride. The poem was inspired by the sights Bates had seen on a train ride to and from Colorado Springs, especially by the vista she beheld from the top of Pikes Peak.