Happy Birthday, United States of America!
The typical celebratory music for the occasion would be a march by John Philip Sousa. Certainly, Sousa marches such as The Stars and Stripes Forever, The Washington Post, and Semper Fidelis, are the very definition of patriotic marches for most Americans.
Of course, there are other American marches by other American march composers — I’m guessing people hear them and just assume that they are by Sousa. Among these non-Sousa marches, National Emblem by Edwin Eugene Bagley is probably the most famous, with three distinct tunes that most anyone would recognize. Its first section features an interpolation of The Star-Spangled Banner, the second theme is a recognizable circus melody (often sung with some, ahem, “colorful” lyrics), and the trio is used by many, including the Indiana University marching band whenever their football team makes a first down. Incidentally, E.E. Bagley’s brother — Ezra Bagley — was a former Principal Trumpet of the Boston Symphony.
You can legally download MP3s of National Emblem as done by the USAF Heritage of America Band (HERE) and by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band (HERE). Personally, I like the overall performance and sound quality of the Air Force band’s recording a little better, but the Marine Band’s recording is a bit more transparent. Heck, they’re free — download them both, and decide for yourself which is better.
If you don’t feel like going through all of that, just play the YouTube video below of the same USAF Heritage of America Band performance.
All that said, music is just one way to celebrate July 4th. Leave it to our friends at Urban Daddy to offer up their own visual celebration:
In the spirit of their “French Maids of Bastille Day” slide show from last year, they present “America the Beautiful” — a tasteful collection of photos featuring notable Americans like Cindy Crawford, Rebecca Romijn, and Raquel Welch, among others (plus a few foreigners), wearing the Red, White, and Blue. Oh, say, can you see?
- E.E. Bagley: www.boulderbrass.org
- Rebecca Romijn: Urban Daddy