The National Anthems of the Allies/Notes

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The National Anthems of the Allies  (1917) 
Notes on the Histories of the National Anthems of the Allies

Notes on the Histories of

The National Anthems of the Allies


The words of the Star-Spangled Banner were written by Francis Scott Key, son of John Ross Key, an officer in the Revolutionary army. He was born August 1, 1779, and died Jan. 11, 1843. The words were written Sept. 14, 1814, under the following circumstances: After burning Washington, the British advanced towards Baltimore, and were met by a similar number of Americans, most of whom were captured and taken to the large fleet then preparing to attack Fort McHenry. Among the prisoners taken at Bladensburg, was a Doctor Beanes, an intimate friend of Mr. Key. Hoping to intercede for the Doctor's release, Mr. Key, with a flag of truce, started in a sail-boat for the Admiral's (Cockburn) vessel. Here he was detained in his boat, moored from the stern of the flag-ship, during the terrible bombardment of twenty-five hours, and at last, seeing the "Star-Spangled Banner" still waving, then, as his fashion was, he snatched an old letter from his pocket, and laying it on a barrel-head, gave vent to his delight in the spirited song which he entitled "The Defense of Fort McHenry." "The Star-Spangled Banner" was printed within a week in the Baltimore Patriot, under the title of "The Defense of Fort McHenry," and found its way immediately into the camps of our army. Ferdinand Durang, who belonged to a dramatic company, and had played in a Baltimore theatre with John Howard Payne, read the poem effectively to the soldiers encamped in that city, who were expecting another attack. They begged him to set the words to music, and he hunted up the old air of "Adams and Liberty," set the words to it, and sang it to the soldiers, who caught it up amid tremendous applause.—Johnson, "Our Familiar Songs"; Anderson's History; Nason's Monogram; el al.


The authorship of this soul-stirring song has long been disputed; but the weight of authority would appear to show that Henry Carey wrote both the words and the air, and himself sang them at a dinner given in 1740 to celebrate the taking of Portobello by Admiral Vernon on Nov. 20, 1739. The earliest known printed copy was published in the "Harmonia Anglicana" (1742 or '43); the tune, while substantially similar to that now in vogue, differs from the latter in several bars, notably in the special stress laid on the word "save." In 1745, during the Scottish Rebellion, it became widely known by being sung in the theatres as "a loyal song or anthem," its first public presentation occurring at Drury Lane on Sept. 28.—Dr. John Bull and, more recently, a certain Scottish musician named James Oswald, have been brought forward by various writers to dispute Carey's claim.


The exhilarating strains of the French National Anthem, which just now are heard on every hand, were the inspiration of Rouget de l'Isle, a young officer who was stationed at Strassburg. Dining one night in the Spring of 1792 with the Mayor, the latter requested his guest, who at one time had been a teacher of music, to compose a song for the Volunteers who were about to leave. After a frugal repast of garrison bread and ham he returned to his lodgings in the "Grande Rue," and there in a fit of enthusiasm, wrote in one night the words and music of one of the most stirring melodies the world has ever known! It was sung at a Civic Dinner at Marseilles and met with such instant success that copies were at once printed and distributed to the Volunteers, who sang it as they entered Paris, marching to the storming of the Tuilleries. In honor of them the delighted Parisians gave it the name it now bears, and almost immediately the rousing strains of "La Marseillaise" were heard in every corner of France.

The authorship of both words and music have been disputed, but Rouget de l'Isle's claims were fully and finally established in a pamphlet which appeared in 1865, written by his nephew.


Quite unlike the other European National Anthems is the one associated with Belgium, although this also sprang up in the very breath of battle. The words were written during the revolution of 1830, when the country obtained her freedom, and the author, Louis Dechez, surnamed Jenneval, was killed in action near Antwerp. The music was composed by François van Campenhout, who was born at Brussels in 1779 and who began his musical career in the orchestra at the theatre in that city. He developed a fine tenor voice, and for thirty years he was to be found singing in the principal towns of Holland, Belgium and France; during this time he also devoted himself to composition, and brought out several operas and many smaller works, but it is chiefly as the composer of "La Brabançonne" that Campenhout is known. He died at Brussels in 1848.


It was as a result of hearing the English National Anthem that Tsar Nicholas commanded General Alexis Lwoff, a member of the suite who had accompanied him on his travels, to write something to equal or even surpass "God save the King." The General, who was a good musician and recognized as a fine violinist in several of the great cities of Europe, and who had composed operas and much church music, set to work on words written by Joukovsky, and so in 1833 the stately anthem was given to the world. The Tsar was so delighted with the composition, that he gave orders that it was to be immediately adopted by the whole Army, and to be performed at all important concerts, and even included in presentations on the stage. He presented Lwoff with a magnificent gold snuff-box set with diamonds, and commanded that the words "God save the Tsar" should be introduced into the armorial bearings of the composer's family. The General became Director of the Royal Court Chapel, and filled many posts of honor. He died in 1870.


Very little information can be obtained regarding the history of the National Anthem of the Japanese, but it appears that at the commencement of the 10th century, the Emperor Daigo commanded a collection of poems to be compiled under the title of the "Kokinshu," and the words of "Kimigayo" were included; but who wrote them is not known, neither can the composer of the music be identified, although this was written at a very much later date, apparently about fifty years ago.


The Serbian national hymn is said to have been, originally, a poem written by Nicholas I of Montenegro, in 1867, and set to music by Davorin Jenko in 1872. The present poem, however, is ascribed to the Serbian poet J. Gjorgjévič, adapted to the melody by Jenko.


The lack of political unity for many centuries probably accounts for the fact that Italy had no national hymn. As in Spain, the people contented themselves with a Royal March, Marcia Reale, a rather trivial composition written about 1834 by Gabetti. The people created a hymn for themselves during the stormy period around 1858. To the ardent verses of Luigi Mercantini, the military bandmaster Allessio Olivieri (1830-1867) set a genuine Italian melody, half operatic aria, half parade-march. The first who sang this hymn were the volunteers of the Alpine Chasseurs' brigade, after whom it therefore was named "Inno di guerra dei cacciatori delle Alpi." Its popularity dates from the world-famed campaign of the Thousand, in the year 1860; since that time, when it was universally known as the "Garibaldi Hymn," it has become the popular national song, more especially when the wrath of the people toward foreign intruders finds vent.


Rumania came into possession of a national hymn at nearly the same time as Italy. The first move in this direction was merely for the composition of a welcome-fanfare for Prince Alexander Johannes Cusa (1820-1873); in the prize-competition set on foot to this end, in 1861, the victor was Eduard A. Hübach (1833-1894), military bandmaster at Jassy. The words were written later, when Rumania was raised to a kingdom, by Vasil Alexandri, who adapted them to apply to Karl von Hohenzollern.


The Portuguese received their national hymn indirectly, by way of Brazil. Portugal is the only state whose king wrote and set to music a national hymn for himself and his people. In the year 1822 Dom Pedro I had assumed the title of Prince-Regent and Protector of the Brazilian Constitution; to increase his popularity, he composed the hymn "O' Patria, ó Rei, ó povo," which, on his ascension of the Portuguese throne in 1826, he brought with him to Portugal, where it was received as the national hymn.