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© 2020 by NAB

Rediscovering the 'Ode to the Star-Spangled Banner'

December 15, 2014

EXCERPT: "I thought it would be great if I could find that music and offer it to the Baltimore Symphony to perform a few years later to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. When I searched the Internet for "Sept. 13, 1814" and "Ferde Grofé," I found nothing—but I did discover that Grofé's papers are in the Library of Congress. I knew that Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist Charles Limb had worked with the BSO, so I emailed him and asked whom I should contact.


His reply: "Let's work on this together." He put me in touch with BSO music director Marin Alsop, as well as the artistic director, Matt Spivey, and a young researcher at the Library of Congress, Nicholas Alexander Brown.

Brown found the handwritten orchestral score for what had been renamed "Ode to the Star-Spangled Banner." He also found a 1937 recording of Grofé leading his own jazz orchestra in a scaled-down version of the piece. Brown then put me in touch with Ferde Grofé Jr., now 84, who eagerly granted permission for the BSO to perform it." - Neil A. Grauer/Johns Hopkins Magazine


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