The National Music of America - online book

The Sources & Factors Influential In Forming America's Music.

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The National Music of America. 249
ning of the wax, to produce a hymn that might inspire to patriotism and military ardour. No man has ever yet sat down with the deliberate intention of writing a national hymn, — and produced one !' A national anthem comes by inspiration, and sometimes by accident; sometimes a piece of very worthy music is a failure as national song, sometimes a work which may be strictly classed as trashy becomes a nation's war-cry. In 1861 a number of Northern gentlemen offered a prize of $500, or a medal of the same value, for words and music of a national hymn; May 17, 1861, a committee of thir­teen (absit omen!) issued the call for this much-wished-for anthem. There were about twelve hundred competitors ; manuscripts poured in from California, from England, from Italy, from everywhere. After filling about five wash-baskets with rejected contri-
1 The one exception of Joseph Haydn and the Aus­trian national hymn may again be noted.
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