The Music of "The Star-Spangled Banner"—Whence and Whither?
Six years ago, when the U.S.A. was only 196 years old, SYMPOSIUM (1972, Vol. 12, pp. 94-102) took a quizzical but unashamed look at the angled thickets of "Star-Spangled Bibliography," suggesting the national anthem in all its aspects as a topic ripe for interdisciplinary study—more attention to interdisciplinary studies having been called for by several writers in the previous volume. Pointing out various features of the anthem and its history that invite the attention of everyone from poet to meteorologist, we remarked that even "the music library cannot be neglected. Where did the tune come from—John Stafford Smith, or one who is nameless in history?" In closing, after discussing two then-recent books on the anthem, we observed that "unless some long-hidden proof as to the origin of the tune is henceforth discovered or adduced, the Svejda and Filby-Howard books are likely to represent for some time to come an end to historical studies of 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'"
That was that, until the Bicentennial Year finally turned from future into fact. No interdisciplinary study of the anthem having materialized, and no long-hidden source having come to light, the author decided to do his Bicentennial bit by trying his own hand at finding proof of the origin of the tune (an interdisciplinary study being beyond his sights) and also at putting forward some thoughts on the disconcertingly moot views held by many persons on the subject of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Some traveling, much digging into sources familiar and unfamiliar, and—Laus Deo!—a bit of luck combined to provide the following historical account, which is based upon an article that appeared in the July 1977 Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress. The author thanks the editors of the Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress for their cooperation in making this account available to many musicians who do not ordinarily see the Journal.
But why, some may ask, all this scholarly pother about the national anthem and its tune? Isn't it a fact that the anthem was born in battle during the British attack on Baltimore in September 1814?1 Doesn't everybody know that the tune comes from "an old English drinking song"? What about the complaints one hears today that "The Star-Spangled Banner" is both unsingable and unsuitable? Perhaps the most lurid of these complaints was voiced in a 14-page article that began:
Our national anthem is about as patriotic as "The Stein Song," as singable as Die Walküre, and as American as "God Save the Queen." . . .
Not only is "The Star-Spangled Banner" unsingable and unpeaceable, but it's un-American as well. Back in the 1700s a bunch of rakes and roués belonging to the Anacreontic Society of London decided they needed a song to accompany their shameless carryings-on at the Crown and Anchor Tavern. Two members, Ralph Tomlinson and John Stafford Smith, got together and quickly came up with something called "To Anacreon in Heav'n," a ditty dedicated to the grand Dirty Old Man of Greek poetry. Each verse of the lyrics—just to give you an idea of what it was all about—closed with the couplet,
And, besides, I'll instruct ye, like me, to intwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine.2
What is the truth about the Anacreontic Society and its song? "Did that society," as a member of a congressional subcommittee once asked, "do anything but drink, according to this folklore?"3 Was its song really a drinking song, or was it something even worse? And did John Stafford Smith, whoever he was, in fact compose the music, as nearly everyone in recent decades has assumed? What facts lie beneath "this folklore"?
THE ANACREONTIC SOCIETY
Anacreon was indeed a Greek poet, born about 572 B.C. in the Ionian town of Teos. According to tradition, he died at the age of 85, perhaps in Athens, where he lived after 522 at the court of Hipparchus. His relatively small cache of surviving verse is usually characterized by such adjectives as urbane, witty, and ironic, and to a considerable extent it does celebrate the twin joys of love and wine—Venus and Bacchus.
But he was not the festive drunkard or amorous dotard of tradition. This reputation is due to the multitude of Hellenistic and Byzantine imitators, whose "Anacreontea" overemphasized the erotic and bibulous element, and substituted sugary, though sometimes charming, frivolity for the graceful freshness of the original. The earlier Anacreon exercised some influence on Horace; it was the pseudo-Anacreontic verse which was largely responsible for the poet's popularity in European literature, especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.4
In England, this post-Restoration popularity of "Anacreontics," as they were called, coincided with the rise of an even more pervasive cultural phenomenon, the gentlemen's club. The reader can easily cite his own examples: Boodle's, the Kit Kats, the Sublime Society of Beef-Steaks, the Royal Society Club. Over the course of a century and a half there were quite literally hundreds of clubs, each centered around food, literature, science, music, or some other facet of gentlemanly living.5 The best known of the musical clubs was the Noblemen and Gentlemen's Catch Club, initiated in 1761; and surely the best known of all was The Club, later known as The Literary Club, formed by Samuel Johnson and Joshua Reynolds in 1764. Shortly afterwards came that "bunch of rakes and roués" known as the Anacreontic Society:
It was begot and christened by a Mr. S—th (1) about the year 1766, at a genteel public-house near the Mansion-house, was nursed at the Feathers and Half-moon Taverns in Cheapside, and received a great part of its establishment at the London Coffee-house (2).
The society at this house consisted of 25 members, and each member admitted his friend. Applications for admittance at this time became so numerous, it was thought necessary to remove the society to a house where the accommodations were more spacious. It was therefore carried to the Crown and Anchor in the Strand (3), and the number of members increased to 40, with the former indulgence of admitting friends. The year following, ten new members were admitted, and friends introduced the alternate nights only. About two years since (4) the number of members were increased to fourscore (5), and each member admits a visitor as before. The subscription at present is three guineas, and to a new member three and a half. The expense to non-subscribers is six shillings. The society opens generally about the middle of November, and their entertainments are on every other Wednesday till the twelve nights are accomplished. The concert, which consists of the best performers (who are honorary members) in London begins at half past seven, and ends at a quarter before ten. The company then adjourn to another room where an elegant supper is provided; in the mean time, the grand room is prepared for their return. The tables at the upper end of the room are elevated for the vocal performers. Here conviviality reigns in every shape, catches and glees in their proper stile, single songs from the first performers, imitations by gentlemen, much beyond any stage exhibition, salt-box solos, and miniature puppet-shews; in short, every thing that mirth can suggest.
The following, classical song, written by poor Ralph Tomlinson, their late president, is chorused by the whole company, and opens the mirth of the evening.
(1) Mr. S—th, better known amongst his acquaintance by the familiar appellation of Jack S—th, is a Dog at a Catch, and a corner-stone of Society.
(2) Mr. Bellas, President.
(3) Mr. Tomlinson, President.
(4) Mr. Mulso, President.
(5) The present members consist of Peers, Commoners, Aldermen, Gentlemen, Proctors, Actors, and Polite Tradesmen.6
Then followed the text under the heading "Anacreontic Song."
Although shorter, later, and less precise as a source of information on the society, Charles Morris's The Festival of Anacreon . . . nevertheless provides some additional items of interest:
In the infant state of this admirable institution, the members met as they now do, once a fortnight, during the winter season, at the London Coffee-house, on Ludgate-hill, who were chiefly of the sprightly class of citizens; but the popularity of the club soon increased the number of its members, and it was found expedient to remove the meeting to a place where the members could be more commodiously accommodated; the Crown and Anchor in the Strand was accordingly fixed on, where this meeting has ever since been held.
ANACREON, the renown'd convivial Bard of ancient Greece, as distinguished for the delicacy of his wit, as he is for the easy, elegant, and natural turn of his poesy, is the character from which this society derives its title, and who has been happily celebrated in the Constitutional Song, . . . universally acknowledged to be a very classical, poetic, and well-adapted composition; and if our information does not mislead us, it was written by a gentleman of the Temple, now dead, whose name was Tomlinson, and originally sung by Mr. Webster, and afterwards by Charles Bannister . . . ; for to do justice to the song, a very animated execution is requisite: that power of voice, happy discrimination, and vivacity, which seems peculiar to the well-known exertions of Mr. Bannister in this composition, never fail of producing him what he justly merits—unbounded applause.
Mr. Hankey, the Banker, a gentleman highly spoken of, as a man of polished manners and most liberal sentiments, now presides at this meeting, by whose management, in conjunction with the other directors, every thing is conducted under the influence of the strictest propriety and decorum.
The Concert, which commences at eight o'clock, and concludes at ten, is entirely composed of professional men in the first class of genius, science, and execution, which the present musical age can boast of. After the concert is over, the company adjourns to a spacious adjacent apartment, partake of a cold collation, and then return to the concert-room, where the remainder of the evening is totally devoted to wit, harmony, and the God of wine.7
In April 1783 an unnamed correspondent—possibly English but more likely of German or some other nationality—provided the earliest known description of the Anacreontic Society to foreign readers:
Some weeks ago I was invited to a concert in this neighborhood . . . About ten o'clock we went into another room for supper. While we were there the concert hall took on another shape: tables and benches were set out, and the platform formerly occupied by the orchestra was now taken over by singers, and the tables were provided with punch, shrub ["Bischoff"], and wine. That was the way we found things after supper, and it was not unpleasant to sit with a glass of punch and listen to good singing without instruments. They sang mostly canons, and very well. The singers who likewise sat behind the tables on the platform and were mostly amateurs, joined in with the punch, and the President announced the toasts. I hope to furnish you a detailed report on this organization that I trust will not be unwelcome.8
The picture that so far emerges of the Anacreontic Society meetings—tripartite in form, convivial but "of the strictest propriety and decorum," devoted to music both instrumental and vocal and to suitable food and drink as well—continues to hold as other sources are consulted. Oscar Sonneck, in preparing his 1914 report, a watershed in "Star-Spangled Banner" literature, apparently did not ferret out contemporary newspaper reviews or accounts of the meetings.9 The Times of London, now available in a run complete from the paper's origin in January 1785 as the Daily Universal Register, published approximately fourteen notices on the activities of the Anacreontic Society through 1795. The following account, written in 1787, is believed to be the earliest the Times printed:
ANACREONTIC SOCIETY. Wednesday the Annual Meeting of this truly convivial and respectable Society, was celebrated at the Crown and Anchor Tavern. The new room, which was opened upon this occasion, was at once elegant, brilliant, and convenient. Above two hundred members sat down to an excellent dinner, which was served up in a capital stile.
In the absence of Mr. Hankey, Mr. Williamson took the Chair—Mr. Bannister's illness preventing him from appearing in public, the Anacreontic Song was given by Mr. Sedgwick in a very pleasing and masterly style. . . .
. . . at ten o'clock on Wednesday night, the majority of the company departed, highly pleased with their entertainment.10
The absence of any reference to the initial concert and the unusually early hour of departure (by "the majority") suggest that each season may well have begun with an annual business meeting at which the concert was omitted. The allusion to "members" only, rather than to "members and visitors," strengthens the force of this suggestion; though certainly it would be wrong to deduce too much from a single instance.
Of the other notices of the Anacreontic meetings for the 1787-88 season, especially noteworthy is one in which the writer comments on the entire concert program, a program gargantuan by today's standards. Put in tabular form, it consisted of:
Two Haydn symphonies ("from the last set dedicated to his Royal Highness the Duke of York"—i.e., nos. 85, 86, and 87, published in London though not elsewhere with this dedication and generally known today as the last three of the six "Paris" symphonies).
Between these two symphonies, a piano trio from the pen of Johann Baptist Cramer, not quite seventeen years old, who played piano, with his father Wilhelm Cramer (who led the Anacreontic Society's orchestra from his position as first violinist) on violin and "Mr. Smith" on violoncello.
A violin concerto, composer unnamed, the solo played by Mr. Cramer Senior.
A duet on the horns by the two Leanders.
A duet for violin and violoncello by one Boaghi, played by Messers. Cramer and Smith.
Linley's "elegant little ballad of Primroses deck," sung by Charles Dignum accompanied by the orchestra ("but we think it would have been more pleasing . . . with the voice alone").
". . . and the concert concluded with a remarkably grand symphony," composer unidentified.11
Perhaps all the evidence is not yet in, but one might venture to suggest that the rakes and roués of today have not the staying power of their Georgian forefathers. Fortunately for all concerned, supper was then served in the adjoining room; but it turned out to be the chief target of criticism in the Times review:
Upwards of two hundred sat down to supper—the musical amateurs had been highly feasted; but those who preferred substantials to sweet airs were much disappointed.
A view of a large room, with elegantly decorated walls, is not sufficient to a hungry appetite. It is therefore recommended to Mr. Hope, to pay some little attention in future to the mouths of his guests; their ears are well-feasted, and there is but what we now suggest wanting on his part to render the entertainments of the evening highly finished. Things did not go off with glee after supper, which may be fairly attributed to the unworthiness of that entertainment, if it may be so called.12
The Times reporter (anonymous, in those times) was clearly among those who preferred "substantials to sweet airs"; and he clearly used the term musical amateurs in its original sense of "lovers of music."
Over the years exceptions to the society's usual patterns did occur. Perhaps because Easter was unusually early in 1788—March 23—the season's normal schedule of twelve to fourteen meetings began and ended over a month earlier than the customary November-May period, and the ordinary sequence of concert hall-supper room-concert hall was for once altered:
The meeting on Wednesday evening, the last for this season, was the most numerous and convivial one during the winter. . . .
The company retired to the Great Room to supper and a stage was erected for the vocal performers at the upper end.
The great inconvenience which the members and visitors had experienced on former occasions were removed by their continuing in the same room to finish the evening's entertainment.
As soon as the tables were cleared, "Non nobus Domini," was sung with great effect; the Anacreontic Song, by Mr. Sedgwick, followed. . . .
The whole was conducted with such order and regularity, as reflects the highest credit on the President and Managers of the society.13
The Anacreontic Society meetings of the next season were reported only twice in the Times, and those of the 1789-90 season not at all. Very likely there were three entirely separate reasons for this hiatus. The first is made clear in a report published on November 21, 1788: "The State of his Majesty's health . . . had its strong effect. Conviviality lost its usual power; and the meeting broke up at an early hour. . . . The supper room was but thinly attended. The feast was more for the mind than the body. . . ."
King George III had suffered his first major attack of what was then referred to in terms ranging all the way from indisposition to madness. But after some months he seemingly recovered, and it is hard to believe so popular and well-established a group would have been permanently stricken by His Majesty's misfortune. One has only to turn the pages of the Times in that period to see that precious space was reserved almost daily for reports on the sovereign's condition. A similar shortage of news space resulted the following year after the Bastille was stormed, for events in France claimed a major share of the Times's columns. Then in the spring and summer months of 1790 the Crown and Anchor was torn down and rebuilt, providing more commodious quarters not only for the Anacreontic Society but for other organizations that met there.14
By the autumn of 1790, the Crown and Anchor was back in business and the Anacreontic Society returned to its place in an occasional Friday issue of the Times. A report on what must have been one of the high points in the musical life of the society follows:
The meeting of last Wednesday evening was not only the fullest, but the most convivial that has been this season. The company seemed to be in full glee, and determined to be merry.
Mr. HAYDN, from Vienna, was introduced to the meeting, for the first time, and received by Mr. Hankey, the President, with great civility. On entering the Concert room he was greatly applauded, and the band very opportunely played one of his charming concertos [symphonies]. Perhaps Mr. Haydn never heard his compositions done so much justice to.
Young HUMMEL, from Vienna, a boy about twelve years of age, astonished the company with a most admirable performance of a favourite English ballet, with variations, on the harpsichord. Perhaps there never was a stronger instance of youthful genius and musical skill.
The Anacreontic song was sung by Mr. Incledon, who likewise favoured the company with two other airs, and in a manner that delighted them to a degree of enthusiasm. Mr. Incledon may be proud of the unanimous applause which succeeded them. Catches and glees made up the rest of this charming entertainment.15
Perhaps one may hazard a guess that the Times never printed a more "charming" music review!
As with many human endeavors, disaster seems to have befallen the society through an excess of success. The earliest hint of trouble appears in the London Gazetteer, which contains a notice of the "Haydn concert" that took place on January 12, 1791:
The Society met on Wednesday, at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand, and was very numerously attended.
The concert, led by Cramer, was a selection from the best masters, and executed with wonderful effect. Before the grand finale the celebrated Haydn entered the room, and was welcomed by the Sons of Harmony with every mark of respect and attention. The band played one of his best overtures [symphonies], with the performance of which he expressed himself highly gratified; after which he retired amid the plaudits of the whole assembly.
In the course of the evening Parke gave a solo on the hautboy, and the younger Cramer and Master Hummel exhibited their surprising abilities on the Piano-Forte.
A small party of ladies occupied the gallery that overlooks the Concert-Room seemingly so pleased with the instrumental performance, that they returned after supper, joining chorus with "Anacreon in Heaven," and his convivial votaries, till "Sigh no more, Ladies," gently whispered the restraint which modesty ever imposes on the midnight crew.
Neither Dignum nor Sedgwick were there—but Incledon, Bernard, Mess. Cooke, Hooke, &c. &c, contributed all in their power to make up the deficiency, and the meeting did not break up till near two o'clock yesterday morning.16
C.F. Pohl's book Mozart and Haydn in London sets the stage for Haydn's visit to London by giving short accounts of the various London musical organizations, among them the Anacreontic Society. Although Pohl does not identify any of his sources of information, he not only mentions the presence of ladies but provides the earliest reference seen to a certain amount of prolonged carousing:
This musical society in the nineties held all fourteen of its meetings, beginning in December, in the ballroom of the Crown and Anchor in the Strand. The committee is made up mostly of merchants and bankers. Besides vocal works, the society also performs symphonies and quartets. Here Dr. Arnold was again the conductor (in 1785 he had dedicated to the society a select collection of Anacreontic songs). The concerts began around seven o'clock in the evening. After the performance of a symphony by Kozeluch, Pleyel, Le Duc, Mozart, or Haydn, in which Cramer functioned as leader, there would follow a quartet by Pleyel or Haydn played by Cramer, Mountain, Black, and Smith, and some solo pieces. Then the company made its way to supper in an adjoining hall, where some 180 to 200 persons took their places at three tables.
After the meal, the Anacreontic Song ("To Anacreon in Heaven") would be sung by Charles Bannister, Dignum, or Incledon. Then would follow some solo songs and a varied series of lively catches and glees, sung by Webbe, Danby, Dignum, Hobbs, Sedgwick, Suett [Knyvett?], Incledon. The last-named is in particular often mentioned as singing "The Banks of the Tweed." During the supper they were certain to admit some ladies, who could look out from the orchestra gallery and watch the high jinks—which, as it appears, they found very much to their liking, so that it was a nuisance to be reminded that the time had come to withdraw when "the power of the wine began to overcome the gentleness of the myrtle." So far as the masculine part of the company was concerned, however, Dr. Arnold knew how to hold their attention so that for most of them it was close to three o'clock in the morning before they remembered hearth and home; indeed, "they blushed not if on occasion the sun itself lighted them on their way home from their revels [Schwelgereien]."17
Ladies in the gallery at the Anacreontic Society? Less than three weeks after Haydn's visit, the Times reports: "The ANACREONTIC MEETING of last Monday evening was by far the fullest of this season, as well as the most convivial we have witnessed for some years. . . . The Ladies through the lattices of the Orchestra looked like a seraglio of Turkish beauties." Farther down in the same column, not a part of the review itself, a startling complaint catches the eye: "The ladies stay too long after supper at the ANACREONTIC—not contented with the delicacies of the musical FEAST, they seem anxious, by way of bonne bouche, to taste a slice or two of the convivial GREEN FAT!"18
A seraglio of Turkish beauties? Lattices? Green fat? Fortunately we do not have to guess at what was going on, for William T. Parke, the well-known oboist who played at the society regularly beginning in 1786, tells us in his memoirs:
This society, to become members of which noblemen and gentlemen would wait a year for a vacancy, was by an act of gallantry brought to a premature dissolution. The Duchess of Devonshire, the great leader of the haut ton, having heard the Anacreontic highly extolled, expressed a particular wish to some of its members to be permitted to be privately present to hear the concert, &c.; which being made known to the directors, they caused the elevated orchestra occupied by the musicians at balls to be fitted up, with a lattice affixed to the front of it, for the accommodation of her grace and party; so that they could see, without being seen; but, some of the comic songs not being exactly calculated for the entertainment of ladies, the singers were restrained; which displeasing many of the members, they resigned one after another; and a general meeting being called, the society was dissolved.19
One major and newfound source of information about the Anacreontic Society yields further clues regarding its closing; but since it is important first of all in connection with the tune of "The Anacreontic Song," we shall at this point postpone consideration of it. Before the tune, let us more briefly deal with the text, so often maligned but so little known.
RALPH TOMLINSON AND "TO ANACREON IN HEAVEN"
There never has been any serious doubt as to where the text of the song originated.20 It was printed some thirty times in Britain before 1800, in songsters (collections of song texts alone), sheet music, and song collections with tunes. Nearly all of these printings attribute the words to "Ralph Tomlinson, Esq." So do the first two sources on the Anacreontic Society quoted above, using the expressions "poor Ralph Tomlinson" and "a gentleman of the Temple, now dead, whose name was Tomlinson." The only questions were: Who was Tomlinson and what became of him? The two expressions quoted above were not taken at face value because "Tomlinson, Ralph, attorney, 13 Chancery Lane" is to be found from the 1770s through 1797 in Browne's General Law-List, the annual directory of the English legal profession of the time. Various obituary indexes and many other guides proved unavailing.
It turns out that for decades Browne had misled everyone, carrying Tomlinson as a "ghost" in his pages over a period of nineteen years. The Middlesex Court record of the administration of Tomlinson's estate reads as follows:
RALPH TOMLINSON On the twentieth Day Administration of the Goods Chattels and Credits of Ralph Tomlinson, late of Gray's Inn in the County of Middlesex Batchelor deceased was granted to John Philpot a Creditor of this said deceased having been first, sworn duly to Administer, Ann Tomlinson widow the natural and lawful Mother and next of kin, Charles Tomlinson and John Tomlinson the natural and lawful Brothers, Ann Reece (Wife of Thomas Reece) and Esther Tomlinson Spinster the natural and lawful Sisters of the said deceased having first respectively renounced the Letters of Administration of the Goods of the said deceased.21
To end the search happily and successfully, Ralph Tomlinson's death date of March 7, 1778, and burial date of March 11 were located.22
Tomlinson's baptismal date of August 17, 1744, had already been discovered in the parish register of Plemstall Church, beautifully set in the Cheshire countryside four miles northeast of Chester.23 Ralph was apparently the eldest child of Randle or Raendel and Ann Tomlinson. Two younger sons were Charles, a beer brewer and a warden of Plemstall Church, and John, who became a surgeon. Both were made Freemen of the City of Chester.24 Ralph's name is not found on the rosters of graduates of Oxford or Cambridge Universities.25 He may have read law somewhere else or as an apprentice in a law office. He was admitted in 1766 to the Society of Gentlemen Practisers in the Courts of Law and Equity, and in 1769 to the Society of Lincoln's Inn.26 But there is no evidence that he was ever called to the bar, so he would have remained what later became known as a "solicitor."27
Poor Ralph Tomlinson, indeed. Despite his apparent success as president of the Anacreontic Society, despite his having created a song poem that itself is still alive after two centuries, he has been nothing but a name in history.28 He must have been struck down rather suddenly by some accident or disease. According to the court record of the administration of his estate, he died not only a bachelor at the age of thirty-three but—attorney though he was—intestate as well; so with the agreement of his family, a creditor was named his executor. Apart from his contributions to the Anacreontic Society, only one other accomplishment of his has been uncovered: "A Slang Pastoral: Being a Parody on a Celebrated Poem of Dr. Byron's. Written by Ralph Tomlinson, Esq. London: Printed for the Editor, MDCCLXXX." This epitome of the parody form in its commonest and narrowest sense is a slightly coarse but hardly bawdy takeoff on John Byrom's Colin and Phoebe, itself an epitome of the dainty nymphs-and-shepherds brand of pastoral poetry. It must have been tossed off for some unidentified occasion or publication.29
And what of the Anacreontic poem itself? It certainly is not great poetry, but neither is it a "dirty ditty." For a song of its kind and place it shows a genuine imagination, a touch of whimsy to accompany its pseudo-classical setting. Oscar Sonneck comments: "Though his poetry is not of a high order Tomlinson 'intwined the myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine' with very much more fetching inspiration and spirit than many other poets of fugitive convivial poems of typically eighteenth century Anacreontic atmosphere which I have read."30 The adjectives applied to the song in the various sources on the society quoted above show that the "constitutional song" was regarded with respect and even admiration by members and nonmembers alike. The "intwining" that Mr. Braun pounces on obviously has to be taken metaphorically; there is no evidence that Venus and Bacchus ever intwined on the premises, so to speak.
The earliest known printing of Tomlinson's text in any form is represented without music in the Vocal Magazine, or British Songster's Miscellany, dated by its frontispiece August 1, 1778.31 For a long time this was the only known printing of the original version, but in 1976 the same version—with exactly the same heading and no doubt copied from the Vocal Magazine—was discovered in a curious collection called the Festival of Momus.32
The various editions of the Vocal Magazine and the Festival of Momus present bibliographical complexities that are unimportant here. The significant point about both collections in all their editions with regard to "The Anacreontic Song" is that two lines show this to be Tomlinson's original version of the text, written before the move from Ludgate Hill to the Strand, which led to revisions removing allusions to the original meeting place. For example, in stanza 2, line 7, of the original version, "A fig for Parnassus! to Rowley's we'll fly" is modified in the revised version to "Away to the Sons of Anacreon we'll fly." Stanza 3, line 2, of the original version, "To the hill of old Lud will incontinent flee," became in the revised version: "From Helicon's Banks will incontinent flee." Rowley was a wine, cheese, and snuff merchant who did business on the same premises as the London Coffee House.33
But Ralph Tomlinson and his poem are not an integral part of our national anthem, merely a phase of its prehistory. What is most relevant here is where the tune came from and where it is going. Did Tomlinson write his words to a preexisting tune as did Francis Scott Key? Or did someone actually sit down and think up this so-called unsingable melody, which has in fact flourished now for two centuries? Until now there have been four stages of opinion in this matter.
THE ANACREONTIC TUNE
Stage one extends for some sixty-five years from the beginning of the song, during which time there was complete silence in print—with one debatable exception—as to the origin of the tune. There are no credits for the music on the sheet-music editions, though sheet-music publishers usually show more concern for the composer than for the author of the words.34 There are no known attributions in such printed sources as diaries, memoirs, newspapers, or advertisements, though for decades, even long past the birth of "The Star-Spangled Banner," there must have been people alive who knew where the tune originated. Francis Broderip, the junior partner of Longman and Broderip, publishers of the first sheet-music edition and two later ones, was a member of the Anacreontic Society.35 He must have known the source of the tune, and he probably was the one responsible for the first publication of the song. Why was there no composer's name on it?
The second stage began allegedly in 1841, when it is said that someone using the initials "J.C." wrote in the Baltimore Clipper that the composer was Samuel Arnold (1740-1802).36 Arnold had conducted off and on at the Anacreontic Society and was its last president. It was a good guess, as guesses go, especially since there was another reason to suspect Arnold of being the composer—a reason that J.C. probably was not aware of: in 1785, J. Bland of London published a handsome folio volume of Anacreontic Songs for 1, 2, 3 & 4 Voices Composed and Selected by Doctr. Arnold and Dedicated by Permission to the Anacreontic Society.37 Its pictorial title page shows a scene obviously drawn from Ralph Tomlinson's Anacreontic poem.
In these circumstances, one would expect "The Anacreontic Song" to be first in the volume; instead, it is nowhere to be found in it. Sonneck, noting that the Library of Congress copy shows irregular pagination with no index and that it was obviously printed from plates of existing sheet-music editions, wondered if this copy happened to lack "To Anacreon in Heaven" through some error. He was able to check this copy only against the copy in the then British Museum, which shows the same irregularities. The author, however, has examined these two copies as well as the five other copies known to him and has found that they all agree in their irregularities. Sonneck discusses other possible reasons for the omission, though he overlooks the fact that Longman and Broderip had already published the song and may have been able legally to prevent a rival edition. Nevertheless, Sonneck seems perfectly correct in concluding that "if Arnold had composed 'To Anacreon in Heaven' he presumably would have inserted it in the collection."38 So much for stage two.
The third stage began in either 1799 or 1873, according to one's viewpoint. On October 21, 1872, Stephen Salisbury, then president of the American Antiquarian Society, read a paper before that society in which he referred to Arnold as the composer of the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (J.C.'s claim having been picked up by others and copied even into the present century). Salisbury's paper was published separately and in at least three different journals and in some way came to the attention of the well-known London music merchant and scholar William Chappell. In a communication to Salisbury and in a letter to Notes and Queries, Chappell wrote, in effect, "Don't be silly: the composer was not Arnold but John Stafford Smith. True, his name does not appear on the sheet music editions, but the song is in Smith's Fifth Book of Canzonets, Canons, Catches and Glees, where at page 33 it is found 'harmonized by the Author.'"39 Reproductions of the title page and page 33 from this collection appear in this article, and the reader may judge Chappell's argument for himself.
Chappell based his claim for Smith on the belief that when Smith said "harmonized (that is, arranged for three voices from the solo song) by the author" he was using "author" in its sense of "original composer of the tune" rather than in its other possible meaning here of "author (compiler) of this collection." The title page was another matter: Chappell misread it near the bottom to claim Smith as "Author of the favorite Glees . . . 'Hark the hollow Woods,' and of 'The Anacreontic' and other Popular Songs." This tiresome matter of a few letters, spaces, punctuation marks, and a capital letter played its part in stage four. Had Chappell's reading actually appeared on the title page it clearly would have proclaimed Smith as the composer of "The Anacreontic and other Popular Songs." But that is not the way the title page reads. When one knows that Smith was the composer of a glee called simply "Anacreontic" that has nothing to do with "The Anacreontic Song," one sees that Chappell had carelessly removed the existing ambiguity of the title page.
Chappell's claim was taken up by others, though Arnold's name is still occasionally found even after World War I and W.H. Grattan Flood and John Henry Blake were busy promoting their own bizarre claims. All of these theories were conscientiously sifted and studied by Sonneck in his centennial report, and all of them save one were dismissed. Considering all the claims and counter-claims and all the evidence he could glean from Smith's Fifth Book, including the fact that searches at Stationers' Hall had disclosed May 8, 1799, as the copyright date, Sonneck finally stated his "personal opinion" that the Fifth Book indeed constituted sufficient proof that John Stafford Smith was the original author of the tune.40 One reads between the lines that Sonneck glanced wistfully back over his shoulder at Samuel Arnold, who as a noted stage composer rather than a church-and-glee composer like Smith would seem a more likely possibility. But the absence of "The Anacreontic Song" from Arnold's collection of Anacreontic songs was a seemingly insurmountable hurdle. Sonneck saw no one else in sight as an acceptable possibility, so Smith it was.
Sonneck's verdict, based on so thorough an investigation with his name and that of the Library of Congress behind it, carried the day. Library catalogers, publishers, and virtually everyone who had to attribute the tune to someone or else leave the space for a composer's name blank were convinced. Everyone, that is, except at the Library of Congress, where catalogers carefully retained Sonneck's properly cautious question mark following Smith's name as composer, and where Richard S. Hill (1901-1961) was in a quandary. In 1940, when Hill had been reference librarian in the Music Division of the Library for less than a year, he was asked by the division chief Harold Spivacke to prepare a four-page pamphlet on the national anthem that could be sent out to the numerous inquirers who, with World War II approaching our shores, were showing increased interest in the anthem and its history. Two decades and hundreds of typescript pages later, Hill had solved to his satisfaction almost all of the many problems relating to the history of "The Star-Spangled Banner" itself. But he remained at an impasse when it came to the source of the tune.
Unlike Sonneck, Hill had come to believe that John Stafford Smith could not possibly have been the composer of the Anacreontic tune. He did not understand how Smith could have lived for some sixty years after composing the tune, for twenty-two years after the birth of "The Star-Spangled Banner," and never once been known to say or have someone say for him "That music is by John Stafford Smith." As for the alleged claim of authorship in the Fifth Book of 1799, Hill interpreted author as "author of this collection." It was pointed out to him that in 1799 the word author most often tended to mean the original creator of something, whether a book, a poem, a picture, or a tune. It was likewise explained that Smith's copyright claim at Stationers' Hall was as "author" of the "whole," and that no one had ever claimed any of the other musical works in Smith's five volumes for anyone other than Smith. Hill could reply that Smith was indeed the creator of something—he was the creator of the entire Fifth Book as a published volume. He could also counter that the third of Smith's five collections contains a three-part canon on "God Save the King," the tune of which Smith certainly did not compose. He could further counter that Smith's copyright claim on the "whole" of the Fifth Book had to be as compiler only; he did not, so far as we know, write any of the texts he set to music.41
As for the use of author on the title page of the Fifth Book, Hill had an ingenious explanation. He pointed out that the first glee mentioned, "Blest Pair of Syrens," is in Smith's first published collection; the second, "Hark the hollow Woods, &c." (with "&c." being substituted for "Resounding," to accommodate the spacing of the line), is found in Smith's second published collection; in the third collection there is a glee with the one-word title "Anacreontic"; and the fourth book does not have the word glee in its title—though there are glees in it—but rather "Songs," thus conforming to the wording of the sales bait.42 This was an explanation that fit the characters that Chappell had misread and that Sonneck probably assumed to be the result of careless printing.
Sonneck considered but rejected the possibility that Tomlinson had done just what Francis Scott Key did: made up his text to fit an extant tune. He corresponded about this possibility with Frank Kidson, the "authoritative and industrious collector of British folk and popular airs." Kidson wrote that in all of his investigations he had never "run across any melody in British collections, printed or manuscript, that could by any stretch of imagination be identified with the air of 'To Anacreon in Heaven.'" Sonneck modestly seconded that finding on the basis of his own searches and experience and concluded "that single melodic snatches, phrases, motives, or half motives of 'To Anacreon in Heaven' are common enough in musical literature . . . but in its entirety as melody 'To Anacreon in Heaven' appears to have had no prototype."43
Hill, on the other hand, came to believe just the opposite. He did not accept the alleged claim of the Fifth Book, nor did he believe that any composer alive could have failed to identify himself at some point with a tune that became so popular in Britain and America, latterly in a way completely unforeseen. Not finding any evidence for Arnold or anyone else in the picture, Hill concluded by elimination that Tomlinson must have put his words to a melody that already existed. Because of the tune's considerable dependence on the tonic triad—which, for example, supplies fourteen out of the first seventeen notes in the modern "Star-Spangled Banner" version—Hill wondered whether the tune had not come from military music, where trumpets and horns at that time were still limited by the lack of valves and pistons to the natural overtone series in which they do not achieve all the tones of the diatonic scale until they reach up almost to the height of "the rocket's red glare." With much help in Britain and America, Hill searched a large part of the pre-1775 tune repertory; but, as with Kidson and Sonneck, no prototype was found. Hill was tantalized by a bandsman's book in the Sutro Library of San Francisco that contains the Anacreontic tune captioned "Royal Inniskilling." He could show that the book had once belonged to a musician in the band of the Sixth Enniskillen Dragoons (the Irish and the colloquial English spellings are different). An Irish correspondent swore that his mother always said that the "'Royal Inniskilling' was mother to 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'" But Hill could find no evidence of the tune's existence under this title before 1799. He was too sound a scholar to publish without conclusive evidence, and during that impasse he tragically died. Thus ended stage four.
AN OLD TALE WITH A NEW TWIST
In 1914 Oscar Sonneck wrote:
One may indeed express surprise that John Stafford Smith waited until 1799 before he publicly claimed the music of "To Anacreon in Heaven" as his own. But are we really certain that he did not claim it years before? May there not be hidden away somewhere in "the wreck of time" . . . direct evidence of Smith's authorship, if not his own manuscript, then perhaps some reference in contemporary letters or the like?44
By a sad irony of fate, not long after Hill's death in 1961 his good friend, the late Charles Cudworth, librarian of the Pendlebury Music Library at Cambridge University, acquired just such a reference, one lone sentence buried in ten volumes of manuscript "Recollections" and "Diaries" written by Richard John Samuel Stevens (1757-1837). For a century and a quarter these manuscript volumes had remained in the possession of Stevens's descendants. One of those descendants, the late J.B. Trend, professor of Spanish at Cambridge University, had them in his possession in 1932 when he published an article based on one of Stevens's occasional biographical sketches of his contemporaries.45 Apparently Professor Trend was not aware of the importance of this particular sentence, if indeed his eye ever happened to fall on it.
Stevens has usually been regarded as one of the lesser figures in English music of the late Georgian period, itself generally and somewhat unfairly viewed as a dismal hiatus between the death of Handel in 1759 and the appearance in 1829 of another foreigner on the English scene—Felix Mendelssohn.46 Stevens was born on March 27, 1757, just inside the wall of London City, directly across from Bedlam. He was apprenticed to William Savage, a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal with the duties of organist at St. Paul's Cathedral, where Stevens sang in the choir until his voice broke in 1773. His apprenticeship ended on December 15, 1775, and for the next two and a half years he earned what money he could by various engagements, either as tenor vocalist or at the keyboard, until in June 1778 he secured a moderately decent position as organist at St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street. In 1781 Stevens "won the duty" at St. Michael's Cornhill, and from then on his career prospered: teacher at Dulwich College and elsewhere, organist for the Inner Temple from 1786 to 1810, organist at the Charterhouse from 1796, Music Master to Christ Hospital from 1808, and from 1801 until his death on September 23, 1837, Gresham Professor of Music.47
Although Stevens published keyboard sonatas and a few sacred works, he was known primarily as a glee composer. In particular, he is said to have been one of those who, in the latter days of this uniquely English musical form, played a part in transforming the glee from a combination of equally melodic parts into the part song, in which one voice has the melody and the others merely provide harmonic adornment.48 These facets of Stevens's own career, however, are not as important to our purpose as the fact that in his "Recollections" he shows a clear concern for accuracy and fairness in his remarks about others. He was not without humor or a gently barbed—sometimes blunt—pen, but in writing his "Recollections" he made every effort to not only appear but actually be proper, fair, sober, and conscientious.
By a quirk of fate, it is one of Stevens's rare "indiscretions" that leads him to mention the Anacreontic Society. In the period between his apprenticeship and his position as deputy to Dr. Howard at St. Bride's, Stevens needed every shilling he could earn, and some of his engagements took him far from home and kept him out long after midnight. The result was that his early morning keyboard practice suffered along with his health. Under the general date of 1777 and following an account of how he failed to win a church job on May 4, he mentioned his late engagements and their dissipating effect on him: "I regularly attend the Anacreontic Society: this was another of my late engagements; as I was willing to see and hear all the fun and frisk of these convivial assemblies." This sentence leads Stevens into a tale of how his father, concerned about his health, tried to get him to give up music and go as a super-cargo on a ship carrying woolen goods to the British in the warring colonies. The ship, as it turned out, was captured by the French. Fortunately, Stevens's confidence in himself had prevailed; he had remained in London. He returns in his "Recollections" to the Anacreontic Society, still writing (in 1808) under the general heading of 1777:
As I have mentioned the Anacreontic Society, it may not be improper to give some account of that Popular meeting. It was first held at the London Coffee House, on Ludgate Hill, but the room being found too small, it was removed to the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand, then kept by one Holloway. The President was Ralph Tomlinson Esqre, very much of a Gentleman, and a sensible, sedate, quiet man: I believe that he was a Solicitor in Chancery. He wrote the Poetry of the Anacreontic Song; which Stafford Smith set to Music: this Song was sung by Webster, when I first attended the Society. The President, and I believe, a Committee of Eleven Gentlemen, had the intire Management of the Funds of the Society. The Evenings entertainment began at seven O Clock, with a Concert, chiefly of instrumental Music; it was not very uncommon to have some Vocal Music interspersed with the Instrumental. Mr. Sabattier was the Manager of this department, and generally stood behind the Person who was at the Piano Forte. At ten O Clock the Instrumental Concert ended, when we retired to the Supper rooms. After Supper, having sung "Non nobis Domine" we returned to the Concert Room, which in the mean time had been differently arranged. The President, then took his seat in the center of the elevated table, at the upper end of the room, supported on each side, by the various Vocal performers. After the Anacreontic Song had been sung, in the Chorus of the last verse of which, all the Members, Visitors, and Performers, joined, "hand in hand," we were entertained by the performance of various celebrated Catches, Glees, Songs, Duettos, and other Vocal, with some Rhetorical compositions, till twelve O Clock. The President having left the Chair, after that time, the proceedings were very disgraceful to the Society; as the greatest levity, and vulgar obscenity, generally prevailed. Improper Songs, and other vicious compositions were performed without any shame whatever. I never staid till the Society broke up, which was generally very late. When Mr Tomlinson died, he was succeeded by Mr Richard Hankey, who conducted the Society with great spirit, had gentlemanly manners, and was an admirable Chairman. I think he resigned his Chair after being President ten or twelve years. The next President was Mr James Curtis; a convivial man; frothy, vain, and silly. Next followed Mr Edward Mulso (rather in years) Profound, and Grave. And when the Society was upon its last legs, Doctor Arnold, (silly enough) would be President to oblige Simpkin, now the Landlord. There was neither consequence, ability, or understanding enough in the Doctor, to conduct such a popular Musical Society. Shortly after this time, the Anacreontic expired very quietly. At this Concert, I have frequently heard Clementi, and Dance, on the Harpsichord: and Shroeter, on the Piano Forte. I remember Cardon, a french man, playing upon the Harp here, in a most surprising, and masterly manner: I have never heard such Harp music since. Cramer, Barthelemon, and Pieltain, I have heard on the Violin: Paxton, and Cervetto, on the Violoncello: Parke, Patria and Le Brun, on the Oboe. All the eminent Instrumental Musicians that arrived from the Continent, used to make their debut at the Anacreontic Society, in order to give a specimen of their abilities. But the Vocal phalanx after Supper was very considerable; both from the number, and from the Character and Professional eminence of many of those of whom it consisted. Some times, we had Dr Cooke, Webbe, Paxton, Knyvet, Hindle, Harrison, Linley, Danby, Stevens, Percy, Webster, Jack Smith, Stafford Smith, Vernon, and Reinhold. (Latterly, Edwin, Bannister, Sedgwick, Dignum, and Huttley.) Bartleman, (a boy), C. Knyvet Junr, (a boy), S. Webbe Junior, (a boy). Beside these Vocal Performers, there were Mr Pain, and Mr Tom Hawes, names now almost forgotten, who were much Celebrated for their exact imitation of the Actors and Actresses. . . .49
JOHN STAFFORD SMITH
We have seen, at last, a matter-of-fact and unequivocal statement that it was indeed Stafford Smith who set Ralph Tomlinson's poetry to music, a statement by someone who participated in music-making at the society when Ralph Tomlinson was president and "The Anacreontic Song" was in its early years. True, Stevens wrote the statement some thirty years after his chief period of attendance at the "popular meeting" and his memory was not infallible about all details, especially ones before or after his main attendance, such as the original meeting place or the order in which the presidents served. But his entire "Recollections"—which cover the period 1757-1827, thus running concurrently with the "Diaries," which record the years 1802-37—show a remarkable degree of accuracy concerning matters of which he had personal knowledge. He must have kept programs, letters, pay chits, clippings, and probably informal memoranda, in addition to possessing an excellent memory for episodes and anecdotes. One of the latter testifies that Stevens and Smith were well acquainted, no doubt from having performed often together at the Anacreontic Society and elsewhere and from belonging to the same circle of London church musicians centered around the Chapel Royal, St. Paul's, and the Westminster Abbey. In May 1782 Stevens finally won a gold medal in the Catch Club competition for the best "serious" glee. Invited to the dinner at which the medals were awarded, Stevens saw Smith across the room and started to go over to greet him. Smith turned his back, saying, "I shan't speak to you, you have cheated me out of a Gold Medal."50
As for the phrase "set to music," it was perhaps then more commonly used than today in place of "composed," and it does not imply that Smith took the words and set them to already-existing music. (When any composer reaches into his subconscious for music suited to his immediate purpose, it is seldom possible for him to say how much of what emerges has been influenced by music heard and perhaps forgotten by his conscious mind.) William Chappell, in his communication to Notes and Queries summarized above, used exactly the same phrase to indicate that Smith was the composer of the Anacreontic tune.51
Be it granted, then, that John Stafford Smith was the composer of the Anacreontic tune and, hence, of "The Star-Spangled Banner." It is difficult to believe that Stevens may have erred either intentionally or unintentionally, and the evidence of "author" on page 33 of the Fifth Book now seems a bit more convincing. Certainly the tune was a sport in more ways than one, coming as it did from a man whose whole career was closely associated primarily with the Church of England and secondarily with the catch-and-glee milieu.
John Stafford Smith, the son of Martin and Agrilla Stafford Smith, was baptized at Gloucester Cathedral on March 30, 1750. Stafford received his first musical training from his father, who was organist of Gloucester Cathedral from 1740 to 1782, and his first musical experience as a choirboy in the cathedral choir.52 When Stafford was quite young he was sent to London to study organ and composition with William Boyce, a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal who knew Martin Smith from the Three Choirs Festival when it was held at Gloucester, and whose daughter, Elizabeth, Smith later married.53 In 1761 young Stafford became a chorister under James Nares, the Master of the Children at the Chapel Royal. He continued to sing there as an adult, was deputized as an organist and no doubt in other capacities, and on December 18, 1784, was made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. Shortly thereafter, Smith was appointed lay-vicar at Westminster Abbey where, upon completion of his probationary year, he was installed on April 18, 1786. In 1802 he became one of the two organists at the Chapel Royal, and on May 14, 1805, was made Master of the Children. He retired from his post in June 1817, but continued to live on Paradise Row in Chelsea, dying there on September 21, 1836.
From early manhood Stafford Smith composed a great deal of secular as well as sacred music.54 He also took an interest in music of earlier times, an interest that was unusual for his day. In his early twenties he aided Sir John Hawkins in the preparation of his General History of the Science and Practice of Music (5 vols., London, 1776) by lending him and transcribing for him early manuscripts "from his extensive and curious library."55 In 1779 Smith published through John Bland of London A Collection of English Songs . . . Composed about the Year 1500 . . . , one of the songs being the now famous "Agincourt Song." In 1812 at London T. Preston published Smith's Musica Antiqua, a Selection of Music of This and Other Countries from the Commencement of the Twelfth to the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century. Smith was, in fact, one of the earliest "musicologists"—though he probably would have disliked the word even as most of his countrymen do today.56 Perhaps there is some connection, remote though it may be, between Smith's interest in music of an earlier day and the Anacreontic tune. The latter undoubtedly belongs to its early homophonic period; yet, after looking at hundreds of other tunes of that time and of the preceding generation, one cannot help noticing how different this one is, not only in range but in contour and spirit. It shows little in common with the glees, catches, canons, and other occasional songs for which Smith was known in the nineteenth century. It may be that in an effort to match the pseudo-classical whimsy of Tomlinson's poem Smith's mind reached back into music of an earlier period for a suitable inspiration. In any event, he achieved a melody that is surely sui generis.
Smith lived toward the end of a period when fashions in music were changing. He wrote largely in forms that were primarily English and that did not travel well abroad. In 1914, the very centennial year of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in which Oscar Sonneck almost officially declared Smith as the composer of its tune, one Harry Colin Miller published a series of lectures in which he remarked: "The name of John Stafford Smith is now little remembered except perhaps as the auther of a few glees and one or two anthems and chants. There is little doubt that in his day he occupied a high place in his profession as organist, composer, and writer on music."57 William A. Barrett was kinder to Smith when he wrote the following evaluation of his work in 1886:
. . . he produced a number of works of rare beauty, the emanations of a mind of no common order.
The greatest efforts of his genius were made in the composition of his glees. He gained two prizes in 1773 for a catch and a canon, and in the four following years he was a successful competitor for the distinctions given by the Catch Club.
Unlike most prize glees, his are admirable, and . . . any earnest praise of them . . . can scarcely be said to be extravagant or ill applied.
. . . The ruthless march of fashion has left nearly all his sacred compositions behind and unregarded. . . . He shone with somewhat of a borrowed light in the region of sacred art. His genious was pre-eminently happier in secular composition. . . .58
Barrett evidently did not know what William Chappell knew and therefore could not guess how sound a judgment he had made. It is worth noting here that "The Anacreontic Song" probably was written in 1775 or 1776, during the period of Smith's run of prize medals at the Catch Club.
What of Smith the man, as opposed to the churchman and composer? The story has been told by Sir John Goss, a prize pupil of Smith's at the Chapel Royal, of how Smith one day met Goss with a copy of Handel's organ concertos under his arm. Smith reminded Goss that he was there to learn to sing, not to play. Thereupon Smith seized the volume, whacked Goss on the head with it, and took it away with him, "though," says Goss, "I had bought it out of my hardly-saved pocket money, and I never saw it again."59 Yet Barrett writes that "Smith was particularly fond of this boy." He took him with him on walks and told him about his own experiences as a Chapel lad and of the great men with whom he had come in contact. In particular, he held out Handel, whom he had seen and remembered, and Thomas Arne and Joseph Haydn, both of whom he had known, as models for imitation when Goss would write:
He regretted even then the growing fashion for discarding the pure principles of melody in favor of massive startling harmonies and the fascinations of instrumental colouring. "Remember, my child," he was wont to say, "that melody is the one power of music which all men can delight in. If you wish to make those for whom you write love you, if you wish to make what you write amiable, turn your heart to melody, your thoughts will follow the inclination of your heart.60
Revealing in a very different way are the hundreds of observations, copybook maxims, quotations from Pope and Dryden and many unidentified writers, remarks about rival composers, rules of grammar, and philosophical profundities—all scribbled in Smith's own hand in several manuscript volumes. The British Library possesses one volume, and a few sheets from much later in his life than any of the others are at the Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain.61 The treasure beyond compare, however, is the so-called commonplace book in the Euing Collection at the University of Glasgow Library. This small, oblong volume of 130 leaves was originally the recipe book of Smith's paternal grandfather.62 About half of the pages, which are written in an awkward hand and archaic script, contain recipes for everything from ink to a cure for a venereal disease. In the ample margins around the recipes and on the many empty pages, over the period 1763-88, Stafford Smith scribbled a variety of reflections, maxims, quotations, and letter drafts. Here are a few samples:
1784. Jan 17th carried the Canon "Honi soit qui mal y pense" to Warren—who reproach'd me on ye difficulty of [correct?] Marriage: Many know Tom Fool yt Tom Fool does not know. Call'd me artful; Twas time to be artful when Rogues pretended to Honesty—He did not relish left-handed compliments.
Raggamuffin¦¦Scaramouch¦¦Battishill¦¦Willet [folio 120v].
Integrity tho' banished by all the rest of ye world, ought to be found in ye words & actions of Kings [folio 124v].
Mr. J.S.S. presents his compliments to Mr. W. Horner & assures him without equivocation that ye little encouragment he has experienced will in future prevent him from being catch'd in a Club again. On ye 23d he is pre-engaged [folio 118r].63
Paxton, Webbe and Danby's writings, combine the common place passages of modern Organists with ye stiffness of ye Mass Music [folio 118v].
. . . Ye Italians have always endeavored to tickle ye ear not to inform ye Judgement. Jones has not ye knowledge of ye Grounds of Harmony which books wd give him / Arnold & Dupuis just enough to put parts together in a bungling manner [folio 127r].
Frivolous music is neither decent nor elegant—no, nor does it contain true spirit [folio 125v].
Had I been a Knave of Hearts or a Fool of Diamonds, a Club wd have knockt me down, & a Knave of spades wd have buried me– –in a Woman's Arms [folio128r].
That which excites surprise much sooner cloys than yt which soothes, the mind.
Namby-Pamby Musick, are Catches & Glees of slight texture. short Airs; Gavots & Variations.
The disgust wch blank verse, encumbering and encumbered, superadds to an unpleasing subject, like ill-mannered vulgarity in a tradesman, soon repels a mind of sensibility however willing to be pleased.
Brevity & compression gives vigour to Composition.
Wynnstay Septr 25th 1774.
From the above place Sir W.W. Wynne sent me "Now [if?] bright Morning" & "Blest pair of Syrens," to set [folio 76r].
The Mind naturally loves truth. The permission of evil in ye World & the doubts & Difficulties in which it involves us, cannot be more satisfactorily accounted for, than by supposing it intended as a probationary trial to prepare us for a better life [folio 68v].
Manuscript add. 34,608 in the Manuscripts Department of the British Library has more in a similar vein, for example: "Sigh no more Ladies &c by Stevens is Recitative, magnetical Key, more measured less energetic, more airy, less passionate yn ye common," and "to speak Music—language must bend metre and Rhythms and music must not snarl or Crawl out ye numbers" (folio 24v).
Commonplace books tend to be less organized than diaries and perhaps are even more private to the writer. It seems that Smith judged his fellow musicians with great severity—perhaps he judged himself the same way, though one wonders—and that his conscious mind was full of concern for probity and high moral purpose in music as well as in daily life. Perhaps this characteristic explains Smith's apparent failure to associate his name in print with "The Anacreontic Song," excluding page 33 of the Fifth Book. Did he feel that its frivolous purpose was at odds with his desired public image of a serious church musician working his way up through the hierarchy of the Chapel Royal and the Abbey? But surely the song is not as frivolous in nature as many of the catches and glees for which he was known.
Perhaps Smith composed the song for Tomlinson for money, for a flat fee, which meant yielding his legal rights in it to Tomlinson or the Society. That seems to be the most reasonable explanation for the absence of his name on the official Longman and Broderip editions, from which the others no doubt were pirated, along with Tomlinson's name as author. We know from Stevens that Smith was one of the "vocal phalanx" at the society in the period when the song must have been created, somewhere in the period 1775-76. Smith was only in his middle twenties and he must have married not long before he applied for membership in the Society for the Support of Decayed Musicians and Their Families, for as a young bachelor he would have had little concern for the society's protection. He won Catch Club prizes in 1773, 1774, 1775, 1776, and 1777. What could be more natural than that Tomlinson should turn to this up-and-coming honorary member of the society and offer him an "honorarium" for putting the aptly whimsical poem to suitable music?
A third possible factor in explaining Smith's puzzling lack of public association with the song is that in later years—and perhaps throughout his life—he seems to have scorned public acclaim. Smith had been retired from active duty many years before his death, and although data concerning his career were easily accessible, there was absolutely no interest on Smith's part to record the events of his life.64 In preparing his Dictionary of Musicians (London, 1824 and 1827), John Sainsbury solicited autobiographical information from most of the English musicians of the day, many of whom were much less prominent than Stafford Smith. Yet there is no evidence in the materials in the Euing Collection assembled by Sainsbury that Smith even answered Sainsbury's request. The very brief article published under Stafford Smith's name, probably thrown together by Sainsbury himself, does not mention "The Anacreontic Song." Finally, Smith's marginalia in his copy of Charles Burney's General History of Music (1776-1789) show his bitterness at the public acclaim Burney won at the expense of Hawkins's History, which Smith had helped to prepare. Where Burney had observed "It seems natural that the hope of applause and the fear of censure should operate powerfully on the industry of a composer," Smith had scribbled: "To gain meretricious praise? Pooh!"65 Was Smith so embittered by lack of appreciation of his music by his contemporaries or by failure to achieve some goal he had set for himself in life that he sincerely spurned public reference to his work? One can only guess.
It is more than a guess, however, to say that Smith was only an honorary member of the society, a performer who must have received a fee for his singing. Some of the top virtuosos may have appeared without pay, as the correspondent to Cramer's Magazin der Musik claims, if they wanted to enhance their positions or—when newly arrived from the Continent as Stevens relates—if they wanted to display and advertise their abilities to attract lucrative offers. But it is impossible to imagine such young musicians as Smith and Stevens, badly needing money, performing as honorary members without some money changing hands. Neither Sonneck nor Hill ever found the slightest evidence for the supposition that Smith was a subscribing member of the society, as various writers have assumed. Evidence to the contrary may be found in the following letter draft on folio 9v of the Glasgow commonplace book:
Mr. S.S. presents his best respects to Mr. Alderman Turner & the rest of the Members of the Anacreontic Society, and thanks them cordially for the unexpected honor of being elected one of their Society. But this year his business has led him into such engagements as will prevent his attending their Meetings. He therefore hopes for their pardon as he would by accepting the honor deprive another person of a pleasure which it is not in his power to enjoy himself.
There is, of course, no absolute assurance that the letter was actually sent and accepted, but in the complete absence of any hint anywhere that Smith ever was a regular member, there appears to be an overwhelming likelihood that it was. From the reference to Alderman Turner, who must have succeeded Edward Mulso upon Mulso's death in January 1782 and who was knighted in January 1784, one assumes the letter was drafted and sent sometime between those two dates. This theory is the most plausible, unless the invitation to Smith was signed by Turner as chairman of an admissions committee or something similar rather than as president, which seems unlikely from what is known of the society.
HUGGER-MUGGER AT THE SOCIETY?
What of the startling passage in Stevens's "Recollections" where he speaks of the period after midnight, when the president had left the chair: ". . . the greatest levity, and vulgar obscenity, generally prevailed. Improper Songs, and other vicious compositions were performed without any shame whatever." Has Mr. Braun scored at last? Stevens very primly says that he "never staid till the Society broke up, which was generally very late." But what of his earlier admission about enjoying "all the fun and frisk of these convivial assemblies"? Perhaps he is referring to the vocal frolics before midnight, when the president was still in the chair; perhaps his knowledge of the "vicious compositions" was purely hearsay. Yes, perhaps. At any rate, he makes it clear that for some of the members the meetings were not only tripartite but quadripartite.
What, one wonders, did Stevens consider "vicious compositions"? He must have been referring to the texts, for music by itself is neither moral nor immoral save by association. On page 128 of his "Recollections" Stevens had listed, as he did every year in this period, the prize-winning compositions in the Catch Club competition—the first Tuesday in May, he tells us, was always "Decision Day." He cites the prize-winning catch for 1785, J.W. Callcott's "A Beauteous Fair," and by it at some later time he has written the word Obscene. This catch illustrates nicely the vocal interchange and verbal interplay that characterize the catch form, one voice "catching up" another. A double entendre provided by one word in the middle voice makes the catch obscene for Stevens.
Years later, in the early nineties, Stevens sang regularly at what must have been the most patrician club of all, the Je Ne Sais Quoi Club, which numbered the sons of George III among its members, the Prince of Wales being permanent chairman. Stevens twitches his nose at the gluttony and drinking that went on there and remarks particularly on "the actors that attended this Club, to sing songs of every description many of which were very disgusting, disgraceful, and horrible to hear. . . ."66 Yet the vocal repertory at the Je Ne Sais Quoi Club, as at the Anacreontic Society, was no doubt based to a considerable degree on the publications of the Catch Club. There are very few words in the catches which, taken by themselves, would be considered vulgar; the bawdiness exists in the context and the double meanings.67 The present generation of Englishmen and Americans, however, would hardly turn a Hair at the club repertory. Perhaps at the Anacreontic meetings, as the early morning hours wore on and the wine bottles piled up in the scullery, some songs "too vicious to print" were passed from gentleman to gentleman in folk fashion. And perhaps it was this postmidnight activity that felt the dampening effect of the ladies "staying too long after dinner" as the Times put it, thus causing resignations and ultimate dissolution. One of the chief reasons for the rise of gentlemen's clubs, one senses, was that they provided the gentlemen a refuge to which they could escape from the ladies.
But that is beside the point. Enough reputable sources have been quoted to show that the Anacreontic Society was a highly regarded group devoted to good music and to good living in the terms of the day. Its reputation was high for both music and mirth. That any "convivial" society could sit through three symphonies, a concerto, a piano trio, and assorted lesser pieces before turning to food, drink, song, and "mirth" gives new meaning, I think, to conviviality. And "The Anacreontic Song" was the society's "constitutional song," sung with no doubt solemn and whimsical glee by the president or his deputy to open the after-supper portion of the meetings. Only the last two lines of the last stanza were chorused by all present, standing hand in hand to signify good fellowship. One can guess that after midnight, when the formal program was over, some groups of more venturesome lay members and their guests may have essayed the song at the tops of their voices (where it is much easier to sing, as many timid complainants today would learn if they dared). But the song was not intended for group singing or for amateur singing at all. It was not a barroom ballad, a drinking ditty to be chorused with glasses swung in rhythm. It is convivial, but in a special and stately way; and the text is simply a good-natured takeoff on a bit of pseudoclassical mythology.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE ANACREONTIC SOCIETY
Tucked between the pages of the first volume of Stevens's "Recollections," having remained miraculously in place through 140 years of various changes in ownership, is a slip of paper on which Stevens and James Curtis—named by Stevens as one of the presidents of the Anacreontic Society, albeit "frothy, vain, and silly"—made up a list of the society's presidents when they met one February day in 1823 on the London-Peckham coach. Though it is known that they did not remember the names in the proper sequence, the slip presumably does list all of the presidents of the society, except Samuel Arnold, whom they no doubt viewed as a rump president having no status. Tomlinson must have been so far to the front of their minds that they failed to put his name down until Stevens entered it later, in pencil. With all of the information Stevens provides plus that from other sources, some of which have been quoted or cited here, it is now possible to draw up a very rough and sometimes tentative chronology of the Anacreontic Society:
CIRCA 1766: Society is formed by Jack Smith and several like-minded devotees of music and mirth. Smith is mentioned among the vocal performers at the society when Stevens attended and may possibly be the "Jn. Smith, attorney, Chancery-1a" who died on October 8, 1780.68 The first meeting place was a "genteel public house" near the Lord Mayor's mansion.
1767-70/72: Jack Smith presumably still president. The society increases its membership gradually from a handful of friends to fifteen or perhaps twenty and moves westward along Cheapside by way of the Feathers and Half Moon Taverns to the London Coffee House on the north side of Ludgate and up against the west wall of St. Martin's within Ludgate, with Stationers' Hall just to the east at the rear in Amen Corner. Here the membership reaches twenty-five, and George Bellas, attorney, is president.69
JANUARY 15, 1776: "Yesterday died, at his house in Doctors' Commons, George Bellas, Esq."70
EARLY 1776: Ralph Tomlinson is elected to succeed Bellas as president. He may have written his poem and commissioned Stafford Smith to set it to music after becoming president, or he may have written it sometime before out of sheer high spirits and have been made president as a consequence.
FALL 1776: Fired with enthusiasm and aided by the spreading popularity of the song, Tomlinson increases the membership to forty—plus guests—and engineers a further move westward to the Crown and Anchor Tavern where more spacious accommodations could be found.
FALL 1777: Membership is again increased, this time to fifty, but each member is allowed one guest at every other meeting only. From the sequence of dates in Stevens's "Recollections," where the whole account of the society is on pages headed "1777," it seems likely that this season of 1777-78, which Tomlinson began as president, was the time of Stevens's most frequent attendance at the society, though he may have sung there occasionally a bit earlier, and the "Recollections" indicate some later acquaintance with the society. Anthony Webster sings the song as Tomlinson's deputy.
MARCH 7, 1778: Tomlinson dies of some unknown cause and is succeeded by Edward Mulso, who perhaps was the only president after the song made its appearance who would sing it himself.71
FALL 1778: Mulso increases the membership to eighty, with each member again permitted to bring a guest to each meeting.
JANUARY 1782: Mulso dies suddenly and is succeeded by Alderman Barnard Turner.72 The latter was knighted on January 16, 1784, at which time he was no longer alderman but sheriff of London and Middlesex County; hence Smith's letter declining membership in the society must have been written between January 1782 and January 1784.73
JUNE 15, 1784: Only five months after being knighted, Sir Barnard Turner dies after falling from his horse.
FALL 1784: Presumably James Curtis begins his short term as president, since his information to Stevens in 1823 can be assumed to be most reliable in regard to whom he succeeded and who succeeded him.74
FALL 1785 OR 1786: Richard Hankey becomes president, possibly in 1786, since that is when Parke, by his own account, began to play oboe at the society. As Hankey was "an accomplished musical amateur and performed admirably on the oboe" and also was a friend of Parke's, this seems a likely date. Unless Jack Smith exceeded him at the beginning of the society, Hankey served the longest term of any president, being still in office when Haydn visited the society in 1791.75
NOVEMBER 1788-NOVEMBER 1790: A hiatus occurs in the Times coverage of the society, caused probably by the illness of George III, the French Revolution, and the rebuilding of the Crown and Anchor Tavern before the opening of the fall season in 1790. The rebuilding may have included the construction of the removable latticed walls for the benefit of the duchess of Devonshire and her party of ladies.
JANUARY 12, 1791: Joseph Haydn visits the society, applauds, and is applauded. He apparently did not stay "past midnight."
SPRING OR FALL, 1791: Richard Hankey and others resign over the admittance of ladies to the society's meetings. Samuel Arnold is prevailed upon by Thomas Simkin to take the reins and try to keep the society alive.76
JANUARY 6, 1792: Last notice of the society spotted on page 2 of the Times. "Missing was Doctor Arnold, whom illness prevented from taking the chair he fills so well."
FEBRUARY 22, 1792: In his diary, John Marsh wrote: ". . . I got admitted through Mr. Smart, as a performer (i.e., by playing in the first overture) at the Anacreontic Society; in the course of which concert my fourth printed symphony in F was performed, being led by Cramer, every strain of which was as much applauded as I could have expected by the audience in the room. In, however, the usual account of the performance in the next-morning papers, written as I suspected by Dr. Arnold, who sat at the harpsichord, my piece was most unmercifully criticized. . . ."77
Quite possibly there may be later notices regarding the Anacreontic Society in other London newspapers which have not been available during the preparation of this article. Nevertheless it appears that the "quiet expiration" of the society took place toward the end of the 1792 spring season. In A Musical Directory for the Year 1794 . . . , among the principal musical societies listed appears: "The Anacreontic Society, . . . which met at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, in the Strand, the festivities of which were heightened by a very Select Band."78 The use of the past tense makes it clear that the society had become extinct by the time the list was prepared, probably in late 1793.
The name, however, was not dead. In the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington there is a playbill advertising for May 27, 1795, a "Festival of Anacreon" to the benefit of Thomas Sedgwick at the Drury Lane Theatre, in which Sedgwick no doubt sang "The Anacreontic Song."79 Sedgwick did sing the song on May 23, 1798, again at Drury Lane in his benefit entitled "The Anacreontic Society Revived," Sedgwick of course playing the part of the president.80 There seems to have been a Sons of Anacreon which put on "Anacreonics" at Covent Garden around the turn of the century. And, of course, New York and several other American cities—as Dublin, earlier—had their own Anacreontic Societies early in the new century.
THE ANACREONTIC TUNE IN AMERICA
Earlier in this article it was theorized that one reason John Stafford Smith was not well known outside of England was that his chief talent lay in composing catches and glees and occasional songs that were uniquely English. We of course are concerned with the one exception to that theory, the occasional song that did travel well, at least to England's former colonies. Although blocked from publication of his magnum opus because of the impasse he met with the origin of the tune, Richard Hill did publish an article in which he cataloged eighty-four different parodies—new sets of words written to the tune—that appeared in this country before 1820.81 The best known of these before "The Star-Spangled Banner" was "Adams and Liberty," written in 1798 by Robert Treat Paine, Jr. The earliest American parody is known through a single sheet of paper in the Music Division of the Library of Congress bearing the signature "Fras Hopkinson" and headed "Song, Tune: Anacreon in Heaven." Hill decided that the signature probably was genuine, made erratic by a stroke that Hopkinson suffered in 1789-90, though the poem itself is in the hand of an amanuensis, whose services possibly were required because of the illness. The poem, written in the Anacreontic vein, begins: "On the top of a rock, quite remote from the tide, A few jolly mortals were peacably seated." Francis Hopkinson died at Philadelphia on May 9, 1791.
Of the American parodies on the song, however, the two of importance here are both by Francis Scott Key. The first of the two proves that Key knew the tune and had used it nine years before he wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner." The earliest known printing of "When the warrior returns from the battle afar" appears in Boston's Independent Chronicle.82 Although not identified, the "gentleman of Georgetown" certainly was Key, who had acquired a home on the Georgetown bank of the Potomac some months before November 30, 1805, when the banquet took place. The poem appears in Key's published Poems (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), and it contains several obvious anticipations of phrases and rhymes Key later used in "The Star-Spangled Banner." The existence of this song was not generally known until 1937, and for many decades much nonsense was argued as to who "first pointed out that Key's words could be sung to the tune of Anacreon in Heaven.83
The story of "The Star-Spangled Banner" from its inception off Fort McHenry to the halls of the United States Congress has been admirably told in two books, very different but complementary, published within the last decade.84 It is unnecessary to retrace that story here—we need merely to observe its several phases. Judging by the number of times it was reprinted in newspapers, broadsides, collections, and sheet music, the song became popular rather quickly, though primarily in the Middle Atlantic and northeastern states. Until the Civil War it ranked probably third among the national airs that were heard on the Fourth of July and other patriotic occasions. "Yankee Doodle" was the "fight song," and "Hail Columbia" was the alma mater—the closest thing to a national anthem the country then had. Although "The Star-Spangled Banner" was much newer, it caught on. It was longer and more substantial, musically more bold, and the words did not seem at all old-fashioned or inappropriate to generations in whom fear of Britain and pride in having twice stood her off were very real. On December 22, 1837, George Templeton Strong (1820-1875) of New York wrote in his journal: "A lot of tipsy loafers are just going past, screaming out 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at the top of their lungs, and in all sorts of diabolical discords. But it sounds gloriously. It's a glorious thing altogether—words and music—no matter how it's mangled."85 Later on Strong makes other references to the song, showing that it was common currency of the day. On more formal or solemn occasions, however, "Hail Columbia" is the song most often mentioned.
But with the approach of the Civil War a new tenseness and seriousness filled the air. "Yankee Doodle" was too frivolous for a national anthem; "Hail Columbia" must have begun to seem too old-fashioned and not sufficiently exciting to a nation about to tear itself apart. Soon after the fall of Fort Sumter, in April 1861, The Committee upon a National Hymn composed of thirteen men centered upon New York—of whom George Templeton Strong was one—issued a call for a new poem and new music suitable to a national anthem. They offered a prize of $500 for any entry that was accepted as such. Of the approximately twelve hundred songs they received—three hundred with new music—there were only about thirty that they thought even worth considering. They awarded no prize.86
The public, however, and in particular the military bands of the Union could not wait for someone to create a new national anthem. Morning colors, evening colors, ceremonies of many kinds demanded the constant sounding of an audible equivalent to the flag. With "Yankee Doodle" out of the question, "Hail Columbia" more and more unsatisfactory, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" sung to music belonging first to Great Britain and later to several other Countries, "Columbia the Gem of the Ocean" hardly twenty years old and originally associated with "Britannia," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" new and still enmeshed with the earlier gospel song and "John Brown" uses of the tune, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was an almost inevitable choice. Besides, its original "convivial" character translated easily into patriotic fervor: the youthful but stately enthusiasm and optimism of "The Anacreontic Song" appealed to the still youthful and optimistic nature of the American people at a time when they desperately needed an optimistic and stirring musical evocation of their will to preserve the Union. The Committee upon a National Hymn did not think the words were suitable; in fact, the critics of today will find just about all of their complaints anticipated by Richard Grant White.87 But bandsmen and bandmasters are much less concerned with a national anthem's text than with its music, though in fact the anti-British flavor of Key's third stanza was not inappropriate at a time when many of the ruling faction in Great Britain were leaning or had leaned unofficially toward the South. So the Civil War ended with "The Star-Spangled Banner" firmly entrenched.
The second phase in the song's development as the national anthem lasted from 1865, when its acceptance was strictly de facto and not without competition, until 1917. For a while the de facto situation remained, and variations in public attitudes prevailed. "Hail Columbia" was not dropped without a fight; no doubt its echoes of the Augustan days of John Adams's administration were more pleasing to some than the more boisterous strains that had helped to win a Civil War that many were trying to forget. Even John Philip Sousa, commander of the U.S. Marine Band in 1891, could not make up his mind: in April of that year he told a reporter in the afternoon that the country's national anthem was "Hail Columbia"—which he thought more suitable because both author and composer were Americans. That night, however, he concluded his concert with "The Star-Spangled Banner," which, as he made clear on other occasions, he thought musically superior.88 In 1889 the Navy Department took a first official step and split the honors: its General Order No. 374 of July 26, 1889, designated that "The Star-Spangled Banner" be played at morning colors and "Hail Columbia" at evening colors. This dichotomy, as might have been anticipated, proved confusing to many, especially to foreign officials trying to determine the official national anthem of the United States. So in 1893, Naval Regulations (article 147) went all the way and prescribed "The Star-Spangled Banner" for both ceremonies. From then until just before America's entry into World War I in 1917, orders and regulations throughout the armed services made it official—at least for the military.
From the military we turn to the Congress, where between 1911 and 1931 over forty bills and joint resolutions were introduced into the two houses in an effort to have the national legislature do by law what the armed forces had done by custom and executive fiat. (At least two of these bills, even past World War I, supported "music by Samuel Arnold" and another pair apparently put Key's poem to brand new music.89) It took twenty years and much agitation to accomplish this end, because of postwar apathy on the one hand and rearguard action by adherents of rival songs on the other. Schoolteachers, in particular, seemed to be partial to "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," no matter how impractical the choice would have been; in the twenties there was an impassioned plea on its behalf by the superintendent of schools of a large eastern city. But "The Star-Spangled Banner" had not only tradition, the military, and musical pizzazz on its side; it also had the Maryland Society of the U.S. Daughters of 1812, who over this entire period recruited the effective support of the Maryland delegation in the U.S. Congress, in particular that of Rep. J. Charles Linthicum. The alliance of tradition, music, and Maryland eventually triumphed, for on March 3, 1931, President Hoover signed Public Law 823 of the 71st Congress. The law proclaimed: "That the composition consisting of the words and music known as The Star-Spangled Banner is designated the national anthem of the United States of America."90
So that, one would think, was that. For a while it was. The heightened tensions of the Depression and World War II, like those of the Civil War, made the prevailing mood more patriotic and receptive to flag-waving. But after the war, especially with the onset in 1950 of our troubled times, opposition to old-style patriotism and to "The Star-Spangled Banner" again came to the fore. Complaints about the anthem became shriller than ever. During the fifties, letters to members of Congress and to their Library protesting the anthem grew in numbers, if not in variety: "It's unsingable"; "It's too warlike"; "Why can't we have . . . ," and on and on. Alongside the old contenders stood a new generation of young contenders: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," "God Bless America," "This Land Is Your Land," and one that had claimed a certain amount of support in the twenties: "America the Beautiful." If anything now visible on the horizon is to take the place of "The Star-Spangled Banner," the author believes it should be "America the Beautiful," with words by Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929), dating from her ascent of Pike's Peak in 1893, and music by Samuel A. Ward (1847-1903), dating from 1882 as the hymn tune "Materna."91 Of all the contenders it provides the best combination of suitable text with stirring music.
But "America the Beautiful" lacks a strong tradition; and, as Aaron Copland once wisely reminded a reporter, "Sentiment far outweighs any musical consideration. The national anthem is not like an auto tire that you change when it goes flat. You don't change brands as if it were so much toothpaste."92 "The Star-Spangled Banner" has the tradition and it also has music that when properly performed can be immensely stirring. The author believes that three fallacies have cheapened "The Star-Spangled Banner" and demeaned it in many minds:
1. The fallacy that the anthem has to be sung or played on almost any public occasion, especially before any football game, baseball game, or other sporting event.93 These occasions provide prime examples of familiarity breeding contempt. The national anthem should be reserved for truly important ceremonial occasions—let the ball games sound their proper note with "God Bless America," some of the other contenders, or newly composed songs that might enter the fray.
2. The fallacy that every performance of the national anthem has to be personalized, intolerably drawn out, crooned, put over like a pop song, and otherwise deformed by all manner of vocal and musical convolutions. The anthem should be performed with brisk solemnity at a tempo of 98 to 106 quarter notes per minute, with just a slight broadening near the end. Like "The Anacreontic Song," it should be phrased as it was written, with six beats to a measure, and not as a dirge-waltz with a strong accent every three beats—or on every single beat as sometimes happens. And, as Pete Seeger once pointed out, the song should be pitched in A-flat or G, keys low enough to make it easy to be sung by anyone with an average voice.94 Within limits that are obvious to any conscientious musician, there should be consistency in both content and style. A standard or official version would be a great help to performers and a protection for nonperformers. Some years ago Rep. Joel T. Broyhill's efforts to arrive at an "official version" were received by a lack of understanding of the musical and textual problems that arise from the dozens of variants in circulation today—and some even dating from Francis Scott Key himself. Broyhill's aim was not to replace the anthem but to help performers and school teachers and publishers discover exactly what it is. As no one would tolerate the American flag being designed in detail to suit each individual's whim, neither should the flag's audible equivalent be presented in the many bizarre arrangements heard today.
3. Finally, the fallacy that a national anthem must be an angelic hymn-song that school children can sing with grace, or, indeed, that its range must be so undemanding that most persons at a public gathering can sing it easily and effectively. Let those who can, sing it well; given the right key and the right tempo, any truly professional singer can do it. The rest of us will do the best we can, as the citizens in other countries do, despite the musical difficulties of many other anthems. "The Star-Spangled Banner" after all is a song of optimism, of belief in the future, of belief in the country—of belief itself.
1The phrase "born in battle" is from Harold R. Manakee's "Anthem Born in Battle," in Star-Spangled Books, comp. P. William Filby and Edward G. Howard (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1972). Far more than an exhibition catalog, Star-Spangled Books is the most important publication issued in over sixty years on all aspects of "The Star-Spangled Banner" from 1814 to date. The author is greatly indebted to P. William Filby for his gracious advice and assistance.
Similar expressions of thanks also should be made to more than forty other specialists and librarians who helped in various ways and varying degrees. That course being manifestly infeasible, certain individuals are mentioned in succeeding notes which describe their contributions. Many others, however, cheerfully gave of their time and counsel with regard to matters that proved fruitless or that could not be included here. The author regrets being unable to acknowledge his particular debt to each of them. Very special thanks must, nevertheless, be expressed to four friends and colleagues who in differing ways provided unusual support to this project: Frank Traficante of the Claremont Graduate School in California; Frederick Hudson of the University of Newcastle; Oliver W. Neighbour, music librarian of the British Library since May 1976; and most especially Richard Macnutt, antiquarian extraordinary of Royal Tunbridge Wells who served as devil's advocate over one long year and who, in reading the final draft of this article, offered many valuable suggestions.
2Charles Braun, "Let's Waive 'The Star-Spangled Banner,'" Fact 2, no. 1 (January-February 1965):3-7.
3U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, The Star-Spangled Banner: Hearings before Subcommittee No. 4, 85th Cong., 2d sess. H.J. Res. 17, H.J. Res. 517, H. Rept. 10542, H.J. Res. 558, and H. Rept. 12231, May 21, 22, and 28, 1958, serial 18, p. 152.
4Collier's Encyclopedia, s.v. "Anacreon."
5In The Clubs of the Georgian Rakes (New York: Columbia University Press, 1942) by Louis C. Jones, no mention is made of the Anacreontic Society.
6Unsigned communication to the editor of London's Gentleman's Magazine, May 1780, p. 224. In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the common salt box, where a house's salt was stored, sometimes served as a burlesque musical instrument, rather like the dishpan or washboard of today (The Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. "salt-box").
The late Charles Cudworth of Cambridge University assured the author that Tomlinson's given name would have been pronounced "Rafe," as with Ralph Vaughan Williams.
7Charles Morris et al., The Festival of Anacreon, Containing a Collection of Modern Songs, Written for the Anacreontic Society, the Beef-Steak, and Humbug Clubs (7th ed., London: George Peacock, ), pt. 1, pp. 6-7.
Mr. Webster was doubtless Anthony Webster, who sang and acted at Drury Lane Theatre from the fall of 1777 through the spring of 1780 (see The London Stage, 1660-1800: A Critical Introduction, 5 vols. [Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968], vol. 5, 1776-1800, ed. Charles Beecher Hogan, pp. 107, 195, 276). Evidence still to be presented makes it likely that Webster did sing the song at the Society in 1777-78, and probably only in that season.
Charles Bannister (1738?-1804) was the father of actor and comedian John Bannister (1760-1830). Various sources indicate that he was a hearty, natural singer with a deep bass voice and, at the same time, a clear falsetto. He was a clever mimic, a tolerable actor, in all likelihood a lovable ham.
Richard Hankey was a member of the family famous in banking circles for almost two centuries (see F.G. Hilton Price, A Handbook of London Bankers [London: Leadenhall Press, 1890-91], pp. 77-78, for information about Hankey and Co., later Hankeys and Co.). Richard Hankey served with the British army in the American Revolution, was a junior partner in his family's firm in 1794, and was knighted on May 18, 1803, according to William A. Shaw in The Knights of England, 2 vols. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1971), 2:307 (see also Richard S. Hill, "The Melody of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' in the United States before 1820," in Essays Honoring Lawrence C. Wroth, ed. Frederick R. Goff [Portland, Me., 1951], pp. 151-93).
8Carl Friedrich Cramer, Magazin der Musik, vol. 1 (May 9, 1793):550-51. Author's translation. In the thousands of pages making up the remainder of Cramer's Magazin, no one has discovered the promised supplemental report.
9Oscar George Theodore Sonneck, "The Star-Spangled Banner" (Washington: Library of Congress, 1914).
10Daily Universal Register, October 5, 1787, p. 3. On January 1, 1788, the newspaper's name was changed to the Times or Daily Universal Register.
Mr. Sedgwick was Thomas Sedgwick, a tenor who enjoyed a London career that was meteoric in both its rise and its fall, beginning in 1787 and ending with his death in 1803, apparently of dissipation, according to his teacher R J.S. Stevens.
11Times or Daily Universal Register, February 1, 1788, p. 3. Wilhelm Cramer (1746-1799) moved with his son Johann Baptist ("John," 1771-1858) to London in 1772 and became the concertmaster at various series of concerts, including the famous Handel Commemorations of 1784 and 1787. Johann was active in London music publishing as early as 1805 and in 1824 founded the still active firm of J.B. Cramer and Co. Mr. Smith may possibly have been T.R. Smith, who, according to James Brown's and Stephen S. Stratton's British Musical Biography (London, 1897), published a violoncello method at London, probably in the early nineteenth century. Thomas Linley the Elder (1733-1795) was a well-known English composer. Boaghi is probably a misprint for the name of Luigi Borghi, an Italian violinist and composer active in London at that time. The Leanders have not been identified.
12Times, February 1, 1788, p. 3.
13Ibid., March 21, 1788, p. 2. Misspellings as shown.
14Edward Callow, Old London Taverns (London: Downey & Co., 1899), pp. 273-77.
15Times, January 14, 1791, p. 2. Joseph Haydn's visit to the Anacreontic Society was near the beginning of the first of his two visits to England; he arrived in London from Calais on New Year's Day (see H.C. Robbins Landon, Haydn in England, 1791-1795 [London and Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976] for a new and detailed account of Haydn's two visits). "Young Hummel" was Johann Nepomuk Hummel, later a favorite piano virtuoso in Britain and on the Continent and a successful composer. Ballet as here used is the archaic form of ballad.
16Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, January 14, 1791. Two allusions in this report introduce figures whose evidence regarding the society will shortly be reported: the oboist William T. Parke, who began playing regularly at the society in 1786, and Richard J.S. Stevens, the unnamed composer of "Sigh No More, Ladies," a five-part glee which apparently was used for the same purpose as "Goodnight, Ladies" has been used in more recent times.
17Carl Ferdinand Pohl, Mozart und Haydn in London, 2 pts. in 1 vol. (Vienna: Carl Gerrold's Sohn, 1867), pt. 2, Haydn in London, pp. 9-11. Author's translation. The period with which we are concerned was one in which an ensemble often had two bosses: the leader, an English equivalent for the American concertmaster, who to some degree led from his position as premier violinist; and the conductor, who led from whatever keyboard instrument was present, using his hands sometimes to beat time and sometimes to play the instrument. When two strong wills clashed, there must often have been confusion.
18Times, February 2, 1791, p. 2. During this period, the expression "green fat" was applied to "the green, gelatinous portion of the turtle highly esteemed by epicures" (The Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. "green").
19William T. Parke, Musical Memoirs; Comprising an Account of the General State of Music in England; from the First Commemoration of Handel, in 1784, to the Year 1830, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830), 1:83-84.
20The doubts expressed by two gentlemen of the Irish persuasion in the period 1910-13 were too wildly cast to be taken seriously. Dr. W.H. Grattan Flood, a chauvinistic Irishman, thought the words "evidently eminated from Ireland about the year 1765," and the tune still earlier. John Henry Blake was an Irish-American inventor "of a device for rifles" and apparently a person of means as well as strongly "antimonarchial" sentiments. His conclusion about the origin of "The Anacreontic Song" was less dogmatic and more fanciful: "It may be Irish. . . . It may be French. . . . It may be American. . . . It may have been composed by Richard Coeur de Lion, who as a Troubadour could compose and sing a good song, and as a crusader could swing a mighty battle-axe in the Cause of Christianity. Perhaps it was the very song that led to his release when made a captive by the King of Germany . . ." (Sonneck, "The Star Spangled Banner," pp. 15-35).
21The record is found at the Public Record Office in AA1778, probate 6, piece 154, May 20, 1779. Abbreviations have been spelled out. The author is grateful to Alexander Hyatt King, who retired as music librarian of the British Library in 1976 and to Roderick Walker, librarian of the Society of Lincoln's Inn, both of whom helped the author find this information.
22"On Saturday died Ralph Tomlinson, Esq; of Gray's Inn" (London Chronicle, March 10, 1778, p. 238). "Buried 1778 Mar. 11 Ralph Tomlinson [in] Fleet St. Churchyard, from Chancery Lane" (Burial Register of St. Dunstan in the West, now at the Guildhall Library, ms. 10353). The author thanks Donovan Dawe, recently retired librarian of the London Guildhall, for his generous and extraordinary search, and H. Dyack Johnstone of Reading University, who played an indispensable role in this and other aspects of the author's Anacreontic research. The death and burial records were reported in Johnstone's letter to the author of August 12, 1976.
23"Ralph of Ralph [clerk's error for Randle] Tomlinson Bap. Aug. ye [obsolete letter thorn plus e represents the] 17th" (Parish register of Plemstall Church, 1728-1812, eighth entry under "Christenings" for 1744; the register in the Cheshire County Record Office, Chester).
24Plemstall Church register; also J.H.E. Bennett, ed., The Rolls of the Freemen of the City of Chester (Chester: Record Society, 1906), vol. 2, pp. 416, 418.
25Information supplied to the author orally by A. Hyatt King on July 26, 1976.
26The first date was obtained from the manuscript admittance book of the society, seen through the kindness of F.P. Richardson, librarian of the present Law Society (the society of solicitors), chronologically organized: "19 June 1766 Ralph Tomlinson of Lincoln's Inn Fields in the County of Middlesex Gent." The second date is from The Records of the Honorable Society of Lincoln's Inn, 2 vols. (London: Lincoln's Inn, 1896), vol. 1, Admissions from A.D. 1420 to A.D. 1799, p. 463, folio 131: "Ralph Tomlinson, gen., eldest son of Randle Tomlinson, late of Picton, Cheshire, gent., decd."
27Letter to the author, May 21, 1976, from R. Walker, librarian of the Society of Lincoln's Inn.
28"The Anacreontic Song" is still alive after two hundred years? It was designated in 1853 as the tune for a temperance song published in New York City (copy in the possession of Lester Levy of Baltimore). In John Philip Sousa's 1890 collection of National, Patriotic and Typical Airs of All Lands (Philadelphia: H. Coleman, 1890, p. 15), its melody and first stanza are published from an eighteenth-century edition, the melody being attributed to Samuel Arnold. In Finnegan's Wake (London: Faber and Faber, 1939, p. 279) James Joyce's stream of consciousness brings forth: "So sing loud, sweet cheeriot, like anegreon in heaven," and the title reoccurs in another form and context on page 559. In the short-lived musical comedy of 1976, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by Alan Jay Lerner and Leonard Bernstein, British soldiers sang "The Anacreontic Song" in the White House before setting fire to it!
29In a letter to the author of September 27, 1976, the library of John Byrom's old school, Trinity College in Cambridge, informed the author that it was not successful in identifying "the editor" or his primary publication. Byrom is misspelled on the title page.
30Sonneck, "The Star Spangled Banner," p. 36.
31Vocal Magazine; or, British Songster's Miscellany no. 4, August 1, 1778, song 566, pp. 147-148. Sonneck cites later editions of 1779, 1781, and 1784 apparently with no changes in content ("The Star Spangled Banner," p. 21). In the Nov. 1778 issue of the Vocal Magazine (p. 280), song 1027 is represented as "A Comical Ode. Written by Mr. Heywood," which constitutes the earliest known parody on "The Anacreontic Song." In each of its stanzas, one or more of Mr. Bew's editorial staff are introduced, "And all drink success to this new Magazine," as the parody ends.
32Three copies of the Festival of Momus are located in the National Union Catalog with an unfortunate transposition of digits showing the date as 1870, when the date intended was 1780. The Library of Congress copy is not cited in the National Union Catalog for the same reason two million and more other music items are not: the catalog card—when one exists—is typewritten rather than printed. The author has only examined the copy of the Library of Congress and, in the form of Xerox prints, the one in the Library of the University of Illinois, which from the contents can hardly have been printed earlier than late in 1787. "The Anacreontic Song" is, however, number 1 in the volume, whereas the Library of Congress copy shifts it to the rear and can therefore be considered still later, issued possibly after the society dissolved.
33Sonneck, "The Star Spangled Banner," p. 39.
34The following sheet music editions are known to have been published by 1800 or soon after:
The / Anacreontic Song / as Sung at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand / the Words by / Ralph Tomlinson Esqr. late President of that Society. / London Printed by Longman & Broderip No. 26 Cheapside Price 6d. [First edition, published sometime between 1777 and 1781, since it is listed in a Longman and Broderip catalog at the British Library bearing the printed date 1781. Page 1 is blank; page 2, melody and bass in C major with first stanza; page 3, chorus and stanzas 2-6; page 4, melody for guitar and for flute, each with first stanza.]
The / Anacreontic Song / as Sung at the Crown & Anchor Tavern in the Strand / the words by / Ralph Tomlinson Esqr. late President of that Society. / Price 6d / London / Printed by Longman & Broderip. No. 26, Cheapside and No. 13, Hay Market. [Second edition, published after Longman & Broderip added the shop at 13 Hay Market in December 1782. Newly engraved, but contains the same pagination, key, disposition of elements, and layout.]
The Anacreontic Song / As Sung at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand / The Words by Ralph Tomlinson Esqr. / Late President of that Society / Price 6d / Printed by Longman and Broderip No. 26 Cheapside and No. 13 Hay Market. [A third edition, also newly engraved, considered later (ca. 1785-90), with the same pagination, key, and layout.]
The Anacreontic Song / As Sung at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand, London, With General Admiration. At bottom of page: Publish'd by Anne Lee in Dame Street (No. 2). [Dublin.] [Published ca. 1781-83, probably copied from the first Longman & Broderip edition, though transposed to D major. Melody and bass are with six stanzas on one page; verso is blank.]
The / Anacreontic Song / as Sung at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand / the Words by / Ralph Tomlinson Esqr. late President of that Society. / Price 1s / London Printed & Sold at A. Blands Music Warehouse, 23 Oxford Street. [Published ca. 1784-90. Pagination and layout are similar to the second Longman & Broderip edition; newly engraved.]
The Anacreontic Song / Sung by Mr. Incledon with great Applause. / Dublin. Published by E. Rhames, at her Musical Circulating Library, No. 16, Exchange Street. [Published ca. 1790-91. Melody and bass in D with six stanzas are followed by F-major guitar arrangement and are all on one page; verso is blank.]
The Anacreontic Song / Sung by Mr. Bannister at the Crown and Anchor Tavern / Price 6d. [The only copy known is in the Bodleian at Oxford University, bound in A Collection of Favourite Songs Sung at the Beef Steak Club, and the Anacreontic Society . . . (London: J. Fentum, ca. 1781-84), but the latter title page states "N. B. These songs may be had singly." Pages 1 and 4 blank. Peter Ward Jones, head of the Music Library at the New Bodleian, kindly plucked this edition out of the Harding Collection (long of Chicago) at a moment's inspiration, and was later most helpful in various ways. He feels the date is likely to be sometime after 1790 or thereabouts.]
The Anacreontic Song / Sung by Mr. Incledon with universal Applause / Dublin Published by Hime at his Musical circulating Library No 34 College Green near the Post Office. [Published ca. 1791-93. Melody and bass in D are with six stanzas on one page; verso is blank.]
To Anacreon in Heaven / A Celebrated Bacchannalian Song / Pr 6d / London Printed by G. Walker. 106 Great Portland Street. [Published in 1795 or after. Double folio with front and rear covers blank. Melody, bass, and six stanzas are on pages 2 and 3; the melody for flute is at the bottom of page 3.]
The Anacreontic Song / written by / Ralph Tomlinson Esqr. / Price 6d. [No imprint; double folio, with the music and six stanzas arranged as in the Longman and Broderip first edition, with "Guittar" (F major) and "Ger. Flute" (D major) arrangements on the rear verso. The punches, lettering, and spacings show many differences, however, with all the above editions; and in the chorused last four measures the lead is in the TENOR! Dr. Otto Albrecht kindly showed me a copy of this edition, which he came across (after this article was first written) in a bound volume of miscellaneous sheet music in the Van Pelt Library at the Univ. of Penn., Philadelphia; the edition is Item 16 in the volume, which bears no title but has the call number f784.8.W647.]
35Unpublished diaries of John Marsh, add. 7757, no. 10, p. 848, Cambridge University Library.
36Sonneck, "The Star Spangled Banner," p. 10. It had long puzzled the author that so meticulous a scholar as Sonneck would refer merely to "1841" without specifying the date of the issue and the page and column. But then we found in the 313 daily issues of the Clipper for 1841 no mention of Arnold's authorship of "The Star-Spangled Banner" nor any communication signed "J.C."—though such communications are so few that they stand out when they do occur. Fortunately the communication was reprinted in the Historical Magazine (3 :22-23). The relevant information is only one sentence long: "The tune [of "The Star-Spangled Banner"] was originally set to the song To Anacreon in Heaven, by Dr. Arnold." The communication in its entirety examines "Yankee Doodle" and other American national airs and is followed by this editorial note: "The above was published in the Baltimore Clipper in 1841, by a person who well understood the subject." Obviously it was the Historical Magazine that was guilty of bibliographical sloppiness—and apparently typographical sloppiness as well, for 1841 may be a misprint for 1851 or 1840 or 1842, ad nauseum. No doubt one or more of the many later attributors of the tune to Arnold copied this mistake, and the error was compounded by subsequent copiers.
37Sparrow, the engraver of the title page of this volume, merely carried out the design of Robert Dighton (1752-1814), who was as well known for his "delicate draughtsmanship and avoidance of excess in caricature" as he was notorious for having stolen many valuable prints from the British Museum over the period 1795-1806 (see Arthur M. Hind, A History of Engraving & Etching, from the 15th Century to the Year 1914, 3d ed. rev. [London: Constable and Co., 1923], p. 237; see also Sonneck, "The Star Spangled Banner," p. 59, for his perplexed discussion of this Bland edition).
38Sonneck, "The Star Spangled Banner," p. 59.
39For the Salisbury citations, see Sonneck, "The Star Spangled Banner," pp. 108-9; for Chappell's reply, see Notes and Queries, 4th ser. 11 (1873):50-51.
40Sonneck, "The Star Spangled Banner," pp. 9-28, 41-56. John Henry Blake disclosed May 8, 1799, as the copyright date. Despite his fantasies about the origin of the song, Blake deserves credit for much industry and a certain amount of shrewdness in his effort to prove in 1910 and 1913 that the song had a "nonmonarchial" origin, though one wonders what Richard the Lionhearted was if not a monarch. The author has seen the entry under May 8, 1799, with a marginal note that on May 14 a certificate was given to Smith, the claimant.
The author is grateful to Maj. J.R. Moon, assistant clerk to the Stationers' and Newspaper Makers' Company, for his gracious aid and hospitality.
41In a letter to the author of May 28, 1976, Mrs. L.S. Burnett, assistant editor (general) of the supplement to The Oxford English Dictionary, new edition, wrote: "'Author of the Favorite Glees . . .' does not imply that Smith is John Milton reincarnated, neither need it imply that he is the original composer of all the tunes."
42The five Smith collections are itemized in note 54. The author's statements regarding the positions taken by his colleague and friend Richard S. Hill are based on recollections of many hours discussing them with him and are supported by reference to his notes and drafts which have been made available to the author.
43Sonneck, "The Star Spangled Banner," pp. 46-47.
44Ibid., p. 56.
45J.B. Trend, "Jonathan Battishill; from the Unpublished Recollections of R.J.S. Stevens," Music and Letters 13, no. 3 (July 1932):264-71. Some information about Stevens's descendants and many astute and charming observations on the manuscripts themselves (Pendlebury Spec. ms.) will be found in two articles by Charles Cudworth: "R.J.S. Stevens 1757-1837: The Memories and Music of an English Pre-Romantic," Musical Times 103, no. 1437 (November 1962):754-56 (with portrait), no. 1438 (December 1962):834-35; and "An 18th-Century Musical Apprenticeship," Musical Times 108, no. 1493 (July 1967):602-4 (with portrait).
The author was fortunate to visit Charles and Helen Cudworth in July 1976 on what Charles called "one of my better days," and was immeasurably grateful to Charles (who died at the end of 1977) for his hospitality and helpful comments regarding the reliability and foibles of Richard Stevens. The author is also grateful to Richard Andrewes, who succeeded Cudworth as librarian of the Pendlebury Music Library, for his very gracious service.
46"Later Georgian Composers. This period . . . is a very lean one in the history of English cathedral music. Only three names are to be found here that rise even to the level of mediocrity: Jonathan Battishill, Thomas Attwood and Samuel Wesley" (E.H. Fellowes, English Cathedral Music [London, 1969], p. 212).
47Gresham College is not a college in the ordinary sense but a program of lectures by professors in various disciplines. This program was endowed in the sixteenth century by Sir Thomas Gresham, famous in economics for "Gresham's Law."
48The glee developed in the latter part of the seventeenth century out of the sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century English madrigal, in which the voice parts were independent and the part writing primarily contrapuntal. In its nearly two centuries of evolution, the glee stood in theory midway between the wholly polyphonic madrigal and the wholly homophonic part song. In its classical form it was for three or more unaccompanied men's voices—the top voice usually being a male alto—with only one man singing each part. In form it was comparatively brief, customarily divided into several sections. Although each voice part had a degree of independence, the overall effect tended to be more harmonic (chordal) than contrapuntal.
Whereas all the voices in a glee ordinarily began and ended together as in the part song, the allied catch was a specialized form in which each voice started to sing at a different time, the first voice going on to the second stanza as the second voice began to repeat the first. However, instead of infinite repetition as in the round from which it developed, the catch came to a conclusion when all the voices had been engaged and reached their proper ending. The catch differed from the glee in that the text tended to be more important than melodic or harmonic effects, with each voice "catching up" another and thus providing, through overlapping words and phrases, the double meanings for which the catch was famous or notorious—depending on the individual's sense of decorum. The nineteenth and part of the twentieth centuries claimed to be shocked and scandalized by textual effects that were generally viewed merely as amusing from the time of Charles II to the regency and are regaining that tolerant reception today.
49Richard John Samuel Stevens, "Recollections," 1:68, 70-73, Pendlebury Music Library, Cambridge University.
50Ibid., p. 109.
51Chappell was born in 1809 into the family of Samuel Chappell, who was then a partner in a music publishing firm with none other than J.B. Cramer, the same J.B. Cramer who at sixteen had his piano trio reviewed so favorably in the Times and whose father was leader of the Anacreontic orchestra for many years. It seems not impossible that Chappell's statement about the song may have been based—without his bothering to mention the fact—on common knowledge in musical circles when he was young.
52Sonneck, "The Star Spangled Banner," p. 19. The principal sources for biographical information on Smith known to the author are:
William Alexander Barrett, English Glees and Part-Songs: An Inquiry into Their Historical Development (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1886), pp. 259-68.
John S. Bumpus, A History of English Cathedral Music, 1549-1889 (London: T. Werner Laurie, [189-]), pp. 377-81, 502-4.
Brian Frith, John Stafford Smith, 1750-1836, Gloucester Composer (Gloucester: G.C. & I. Frith, 1950).
Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 3d, 4th, and 5th eds. and 6th ed. (in press), s.v. "Smith, John Stafford" (see especially for catastrophic end of Smith's "extensive and curious library" and [6th ed. only, article by N. Temperley] for further bibliography and lists of works).
Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Allgemeine Enzyklopädie der Musik, s.v. "Smith, John Stafford" (article by Percy M. Young, especially valuable for its citation of Smith's compositions and manuscript locations).
53In Smith's time the plural "Chapels Royal" was common. Experts assert that the singular has always been the more proper form because regardless of the number of palaces, the establishment that supplied the music for them was a single administrative unit. Today the Chapel Royal usually functions at St. James's Palace.
54Smith's published output of original compositions—as opposed to his transcriptions and arrangements of works by other composers—includes twenty choir anthems (Anthems . . . for the Choir-Service of the Church of England [London: Printed for the Author, 1793]) and several other religious works, both vocal and instrumental. More numerous and important are his glees, catches, odes, songs, and other secular works for one or more voices. These vocal compositions were originally published in one or the other of two series:
(1) Volumes selected and edited by Edmund Thomas Warren (see note 63) and published under the aegis of the Noblemen and Gentlemen's Catch Club:
(a) A Collection of Vocal Harmony Consisting of Catches Canons and Glees Never before Published to Which Are Added Several Motetts and Madrigals Composed by the Best Masters (London: Printed for Welcker in Gerrard Street, St. Ann's, Soho, n.d.), 295 pp. These pieces were first published in fascicles known as "Warren's Monthly Collection," and the date of 1765 usually given probably refers to the appearance of the first fascicle. A study of various clues indicates that 1775 is the probable date of issue of the entire collection in a single volume. It contains six catches by Smith, plus a curious "Motett On a peculiar Plan invented by Orlandus Lassus to enable Charles the ninth of France to sing a part." The part for the unnamed nobleman or gentleman consists of the same phrase of seven half notes within the range of a minor sixth sounded at intervals for a total of five times, the third time being raised a fourth so that the total range is a minor ninth. This motet comes near the end of the volume and probably coincides with Smith's study in the seventies of early music.
(b) Volumes 11-16 and 18-22 of Warren's Catch Club series: A [First, Second, Third, etc.] Collection of Catches, Canons and Glees for Three, Four, Five, and Six Voices . . . The thirty-two volumes bear no date, but various evidence, including that of Stevens's "Recollections," shows that they were issued in or as of 1762-1793. Entries were submitted to Warren in December, and a committee weeded them out in the early months of the following year. The entire membership then voted on the final contenders, and in May the decisions were announced and medals awarded. During the summer and fall months, Warren and the publishers prepared the year's volume which apparently included all or most of the final contending works. The first eleven volumes were published variously by Peter Welcker and Longman and Broderip, but volume 12 onward of the Library of Congress set, at least, was published by Longman and Broderip. The eleven volumes cited above contain under Smith's name twenty-eight glees (of which four won prize medals), eleven catches (two medals), eight canons (one medal), fifteen solo songs and canzonets, and nineteen odes (one medal), rounds, and other miscellaneous pieces.
(2) Five volumes prepared by Smith himself and issued through several publishers. Since the volumes bear no imprint dates and only the last was registered for copyright at Stationers' Hall, librarians and earlier writers have been sometimes vague and sometimes overly bold in dating the first four. In the Library of Congress there is a bound volume containing the first four books, a volume that was obviously Smith's own shelf copy, probably for the last fifty-one years of his life. This volume bears over thirty remarks, alterations, comments on the texts, and other emendations in Smith's hand. On a front flyleaf Smith has written with his customary flourishes the following dates of publication for each of the first four books: "The first, Colls of Glees published March 1st 1777—The 2nd—May 12th 1778—The 3rd—June 4th 1781—The Last—Feb. 9th 1785.—"
The following are detailed citations of the five Smith books and statistics on their contents:
(a) A Collection of Glees for Three, Four, Five and Six Voices Including Some of the More Serious Cast Which Have Gained Prize Medals With Many That Have Never Been Published the Whole Composed by J. S. Smith (London: Printed and Sold by Welcker, No 17 Gerrard Street, St Anns, Soho [March 1, 1777]). Oblong quarto; t. p., index p., pp. 2-37 containing 16 pieces: 4 catches, 1 canon, 6 glees, 2 rounds, 1 canzonet (in Smith's hand on p. 37 is the notation "Composed in ye yr 1770," making it the earliest identifiable composition by Smith), 1 ode, and 1 scenalike piece. (This collection was later reissued from the same plates by Longman and Broderip and John Preston.)
(b) A Select Collection of Catches, Canons and Glees of Different Kinds for Three and Four Voices Some of Which Have Gain'd Prize Medals and Others Have Never before Been Published. Composed by J. S. Smith (London: Printed and Sold by John Welcker No 10 Hay Market opposite the Opera House [May 12, 1778]). Oblong quarto; t. p., index p., pp. 2-37 containing 14 pieces: 2 catches, 3 canons, 6 glees, 2 rounds, and 1 "Sonnet."
(c) A Miscellaneous Collection of New Songs, Catches and Glees, for One, Two, Three, Four, and Five Voices, Particularly an Occasional Ode Sung after Dinner at the Pantheon, Which Gained the Premium This Year; and a Cantata Entitled, The Frantic Lady. The Whole Compos'd by John Stafford Smith (London: Printed and Sold by James Blundell. Music Seller to His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland, N. 10 Hay Market facing the Opera House [June 4, 1781]). Oblong quarto; t. p., index p., pp. 2-51 containing 18 pieces: 5 glees, 3 catches, 2 canons, 1 ode, 2 songs, 1 cantata, 1 canzonet, 1 round, 1 "Epitaph," and 1 duet.
(d) A Collection of Songs of Various Kinds, and for Different Voices, composed by John Stafford Smith (London: Printed for and sold by J. Preston, at his Music Warehouse No 97, Strand [Feb. 9, 1785]). Price 10/6. Oblong quarto; t. p., dedicatory page to Sir Francis Basset Baronet with coat of arms, no index page in LC copy, pp. 2-40 containing 14 pieces: 5 glees, 6 songs, 1 catch, 1 Welsh song arrangement, and 1 arialike song.
(e) A Fifth Book [May 8, 1799] (see title page reproduced in this article). Oblong quarto; dedicatory page to Viscount Dudley and Ward (one of the founders of the Catch Club) with coat of arms, index p., pp. 2-52 containing 19 pieces: 6 glees, 3 canzonets, 3 catches, 2 songs, 2 canons, 1 round, 2 elegies.
Some of the pieces first published in the Warren Collection were reissued in these volumes, and a few of the most popular subsequently were reprinted in other anthologies, even as late as the Boston Handel and Haydn Society collections of the 1820s.
Finally, lest we forget, Smith's Anacreontic tune was published in sheet music and song collections with either Tomlinson's original text or one of the hundred or so British and American parodies, in at least some dozens of editions by the end of the nineteenth century, to be followed in this century by facsimile reproductions in numerous publications. Yet this figure does not include editions of the music published with the most important parody of them all, "The Star-Spangled Banner." Richard S. Hill in 1958 supplied the House Judiciary Subcommittee with the figure of "262 copyrighted versions of The Star-Spangled Banner on file with the Library of Congress" (U.S., Congress, The Star-Spangled Banner). No doubt a total figure for 1977, including later copyrighted editions, separate printings not copyrighted in the United States, and the countless versions in books and other publications not separately indexed would mount to well over a thousand.
Autograph manuscripts of Stafford Smith's music are scattered even when they are known to survive, but at least three locations are worth noting: the Euing Collection in the University of Glasgow Library (see Percy M. Young's article cited in Note 52); the Library of St. Michael's College, Tenbury (twenty-six items are listed in E.H. Fellowes's Catalogue [Paris, 1934] of the music in that library); and the Manuscripts Department of the British Library in London (see indexes in Augustus Hughes-Hughes, Catalogue of Manuscript Music in the British Museum, 3 vols. [London: British Museum, 1906-9]).
Of the seventy Catch Club entries by Smith in the manuscript volumes of the Warren Collection at the Boston Public Library, only thirty-two of these pieces appear to have been published by Warren. These manuscripts, however, are not autographs but fair copies made by Warren from the autographs submitted to him for the competition. The Royal College of Music in London has the unpublished and undated autograph of Smith's Introduction to the Art of Composing plus other items from his once extraordinary library. Some of his transcriptions and other rarities are also in London at the Royal Academy of Music and the British Library. For much help with this summarization of Smith's total oeuvre the author is deeply indebted to John Racin of the University of West Virginia, Nicholas Temperley of the University of Illinois, and James J. Fuld of New York.
55Grove's Dictionary, 3d, 4th, and 5th eds., s.v. "Smith, John Stafford."
56The author thanks Nicholas Temperley of the University of Illinois for pointing out this fact—which was first mentioned by Percy M. Young—and for his patient counsel on many aspects of Smith's relationship to "The Anacreontic Song," particularly for his adamant urging that "author" on page 33 of the Fifth Book meant "original composer of the tune."
57Harry Colin Miller, Introductory Euing Lectures on Musical Bibliography and History (Glasgow: Bayley & Ferguson, 1914), p. 129.
58Barrett, English Glees and Part-Songs, pp. 262-63.
59Bumpus, A History of English Cathedral Music, pp. 502-3.
60Barrett, English Glees and Part-Songs, p. 267.
61The author is grateful to Marjorie E. Gleed, secretary of the society, for allowing him to make copies of the Smith manuscripts, especially the form recommending Smith for membership in the Society of Decayed Musicians and Their Families, which is dated July 7, 1776, and testifies that Smith had served a regular apprenticeship, was a married man, and had no children. It is signed by John Dyne, a singer and composer often mentioned by Stevens.
62The University of Glasgow Library's catalog entry for this item (shelf number R.d.63), the entry being in the manuscript of Henry George Farmer who cataloged the Euing Collection for the Library, reads ". . . a commonplace book . . . bearing the initials I.S., probably the grandfather of John Stafford Smith. . . ." (Information from Asst. Librarian Sheila Craik, to whom this author owes very special thanks for her kindness and assistance both during his visit to Glasgow and afterwards.)
63From 1762 through 1793, Edmund Thomas Warren, Secretary of the Noblemen and Gentlemen's Catch Club, edited and published in thirty-two volumes the prize-winning and other selected catches, canons, glees, and occasional odes from among the annual entries in the Catch Club competition. These thirty-two volumes were reprinted in four weighty facsimile volumes as A Collection of Catches, Canons & Glees (Wilmington, Del.: Mellifont Press, 1970), edited with an introduction by Emanuel Rubin and an essay, "The Poetry of the Warren Collection," by Malcolm A. Nelson. The author is grateful to Messrs. Rubin and Nelson for discussing various aspects of this collection with him. The author is also greatly indebted to John Racin, professor of English at the University of West Virginia, for his technical help and personal courtesies, including permission for access to his microfilm of and a copy of his index to the complete Warren Collection of manuscripts, numbering over twenty-two hundred compositions submitted for the annual competitions. The manuscripts themselves are in the Allen A. Browne Collection at the Boston Public Library, where Ruth Bleecker, chief of the Music Division, was extremely helpful in the earlier stages of the author's search. As for Edmund Thomas Warren, alias Warren Horne, Dr. Rubin's introduction explains that in 1784 the secretary had his surname extended by royal license to legally claim a bequest from his maternal uncle Edmund Horne, then lately deceased. Hence, Stafford Smith's rather testy play on the name in the quotation from the Glasgow commonplace book.
64"Barrett, English Glees and Part-Songs, p. 260.
65Elizabeth Cole, "Stafford Smith's Burney," Music and Letters 40, no. 1 (January 1959):35-38.
66Writing in his "Recollections" (1:178) about the carryings-on at the Je Ne Sais Quoi Club, which met at the Star and Garter Tavern in Pall Mall, Stevens seems to be upset most of all by an act of the Prince of Wales: "One morning about two O'Clock, the Prince was so heated by his excess [of drink], that he untied his Neck Handkerchief (which was very thick) pulled it off his neck, and walked up and down Pall Mall in order to cool himself. This I afterward heard, but it seemed to me to be almost the act of a madman."
67After praising Smith's secular compositions, Barrett deplores the fact that Smith "wrote many catches to words of undesirable meaning and purport. His first prize was gained for a catch set to a jingle utterly devoid of decency" (English Glees and Part-Songs, p. 268).
68Gentleman's Magazine, October 1780, p. 495.
69In addition to his private practice as an attorney, George Bellas (senior, for he had a son by the same name who was a clergyman) seems to have been a member of the Court of Common Council. On Monday, May 14, 1770, for example, as a "commoner" member of the court he was appointed to a committee to prepare "an humble Petition, Address, and Remonstrance regarding the Middlesex Election" to His Majesty (Gentleman's Magazine, various issues of the 1770s).
70London Chronicle, January 16, 1776, p. 1.
71In writing of the year 1786, W.T. Parke, principal oboist to the Theatre Royal Covent Garden, states: "The late chairman, Mr. Mulso, possessed a good tenor voice, and sang the song alluded to ["The Anacreontic Song"] with great effect." He then tells several anecdotes illustrating Mulso's impulsive humor (Musical Memoirs, 1:80-84).
72Mulso's obituary, though lacking the exact day of his death, was more than usually informative: "DEATHS. Suddenly, sitting in his chair, Edward Mulso, Esq., receiver of the first-fruits office in the Temple, one of the general accountants in the Excise-Office, and nephew and secretary to Dr. Thomas, late Lord Bishop of Winchester" (Gentleman's Magazine, February 1782, p. 94).
In several respects Mulso appears to have displayed at least a degree of musicality: Parke alludes favorably to his singing (Musical Memoirs, 1:80-84), John Cole refers to his playing the violin (Memoirs of Mrs. Chapone; Newly-Developed, from Various Authentic Sources [London: Simkin, Marshall and Co., 1839], pp. 58, 62), and he composed at least one catch that won a medal at the Catch Club (Warren Collection, 5:34). Mulso also turned his hand to poetry: Glasgow manuscript R.d.66 in the Euing collection contains a glee composed by Stevens's teacher, James Nares, to "words by Edwd. Mulso, Esq."
Mulso was the younger brother of Hester Mulso Chapone, born October 27, 1725, at Twywell in Northamptonshire, apparently also Edward's birthplace. Hester Chapone, essayist and author of Letters on the Improvement of the Mind (London, 1772, and later editions) was a great friend of the novelist Samuel Richardson. The six-volume edition of Richardson's Correspondence, edited by Anna L. Barbauld (London: Richard Phillips, 1804), affords us the only known picture of any president of the society save Arnold. In the four-volume collection The Works of Mrs. Chapone: Now First collected . . . (London: John Murray, 1807) the following tribute to Edward Mulso may be found: "This gentleman, well known to the musical world, and who was many years president of the anacreontic society, had qualities that endeared him, not only to his own family and connections, but to all with whom he was upon any terms of intimacy. To a feeling and excellent heart, and cheerful temper, he joined such powers of entertainment from the originality of his humor, and the versatility and vivacity of his conversation . . . that when he was gone, society was deprived of one of its most agreeable ornaments" (2:6-7).
73Gentleman's Magazine 56, pt. 3 (September 1786):832-36. A communication signed "G.K." quotes the inscription on a monument recently erected to Sir Barnard at Therfield Church, Therfield, Hertfordshire: "To the memory of Sir Barnard Turner, Knight, Alderman and Sheriff of London and Middlesex, Major of the Honourable Artillery Company, and Member of Parliament for the Borough of Southward. . . . He died by a Fall from his Horse the 15th of June, 1784, aetat. 42." G.K. lists other family inscriptions, saying the family had been in the parish since about 1664. Turner was knighted on January 16, 1784 (William A. Shaw, The Knights of England [Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1971], p. 298).
74This Curtis may have been the James Curtis who was born on October 10, 1750, and died unmarried in December 1835. He was an older brother of Sir William Curtis, lord mayor of London 1794-95, and a relation of the modern-day Baron Curtis of Cullands Grove (see Burke's Landed Gentry, 17th ed. [London: Burke's Peerage, 1952], p. 587).
75Parke also supplies information on Hankey's service with the British army in America, during which he was taken prisoner by the Americans and almost hanged (Musical Memoirs, 1:83). See also Hill, "The Melody of 'The Star Spangled Banner,'" pp. 151-93.
76Thomas Simkin was a "remarkably stout man," whose stoutness quite literally caused his downfall. While supervising the serving of his guests, evidently a few years after the dissolution of the Anacreontic Society, Simkin leaned over the banister at the top of a stairwell, calling out orders to his servants below. The banister gave way to his great weight and he fell to his death (Callow, Old London Taverns, pp. 273-77).
77Diaries of John Marsh, manuscript add. 7757, no. 13, pp. 1145-46, Cambridge University Library.
78John Doane, ed., A Musical Directory for the Year 1794 . . . (London: R.H. Westley, 1794), p. 85.
79The author thanks Sandra L. Powers, at the Folger Shakespeare Library, for her cheerful labors, many of which resulted in locating sources referred to elsewhere in this article.
In his "Recollections" (1:145), Stevens tells a story that corrects a footnote in Sonneck's "The Star Spangled Banner" (p. 34) dealing with "A new Anacreontic Song. Sung by Mr. Sedgwick with great applause at the Royalty Theatre." Frank Kidson had written Sonneck about finding the poem printed in a songster, and since it began "To banish life's troubles the Grecian old sage," they agreed it must have been meant to be sung to the Anacreontic tune. Stevens informs us, however, that Sedgwick had filled in for Charles Bannister by singing the song so successfully at the society on October 11, 1786, that in the fall of 1787 Stevens composed for Sedgwick a completely new song in the Anacreontic vein. He gives the text, and it is the song about the "Grecian old sage."
80London Stage, pt. 5, p. 2073.
81Hill, "The Melody of 'The Star Spangled Banner,'" pp. 151-93.
82December 30, 1805, p. 4. A second printing prefaces the text with "Song—Tune Anacreon. Prepared for, and sung by, a gentleman of George-Town, at an entertainment given in honor of Capts. Stephen Decatur, jun. and Charles Stewart."
83The discovery of the song was first announced by J.A. Kouwenhoven and L.N. Patten, "New Light on the Star Spangled Banner," Musical Quarterly 23, no. 2 (April 1937):198-200. These authors also were the first to find the date of the banquet (Washington Federalist, November 30, 1805).
84Filby and Howard, Star-Spangled Books. George J. Svejda, History of The Star Spangled Banner from 1814 to the Present (Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior, February 28, 1969).
85The author thanks Vera Brodsky Lawrence for sending this quotation and many other tidbits about Strong. For example, in 1862 Strong doodled in his diary: "And the Bar-stangled Spanner In Triumph shall wa-a-ave O'er the Land of the Free And the home of the Slave!"
86Richard Grant White, National Hymns (New York: Rudd & Carleton, 1861), pp. 65-80.
87Ibid., pp. 17-22.
88Svejda, History of the Star Spangled Banner, pp. 201-94.
89Ibid., pp. 322-41.
90From a copy of the enrolled bill in the Music Division of the Library of Congress.
91James J. Fuld, The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical Popular and Folk, rev. ed. (New York: Crown Publishers, 1971), pp. 96-97. The author is grateful to Jim Fuld for the wealth of information and inspiration he has provided.
92"Oh Say, Can You Sing It," This Week, February 9, 1969, pp. 1-15.
93The ridiculous lengths to which the sports world has carried the business of playing the national anthem at every event is well summarized in an article by J.D. Reed, "Gallantly Screaming," Sports Illustrated, January 3, 1977, pp. 52-60.
94Braun, "Let's Waive 'The Star-Spangled Banner,'" p. 7.