Poets & Patriots: A Tuneful History of the United States Through The Tale of Francis Scott Key’s Most Famous Song

Monday August 17, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event will be recorded

The story of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is the story of the United States itself. The melody was famously set to new words by amateur poet and lawyer Francis Scott Key after the Battle of Baltimore in 1814.

Since the “dawn’s early light” on that now emblemmatic day, the song has grown and changed in ways largely forgotten today. This lecture and discussion by U-M Associate Professor of Musicology and American Culture Mark Clague will explore the history of the U.S. national anthem as a witness to the story of the nation itself.

This event is held in conjunction with the Downtown Library exhibit: Banner Moments: The National Anthem In American Life, which is on display in the Multi-Purpose Room through August. Celebrating the bicentennial of the U.S. National Anthem, this exhibit illustrates through interpretive panels, historical documents and photographs, the cultural 200-year history of “The Star-Spangled Banner” (1814–2014). The tale that emerges demonstrates the power of music and poetry to spark the social imagination and thus create a sense of shared community.

Mark Clague is a native of Ann Arbor and longtime fan of the Ann Arbor District Library. He serves as Associate Professor of Musicology and American Cutlure at the University of Michigan and is editor-in-chief of the George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition and director of the University’s Gershwin Initiative.

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