Maybe we’re biased because we work with the Marine Corps League on its magazine, Semper Fi, but for our money nobody plays “The Star-Spangled Banner” better than a Marine Corps band. Though there are a number of bands at Marine Corps installations, “The President’s Own” is the original, tracing its roots to 1798 when it was founded by an of Congress. Dubbed “The President’s Own” by Thomas Jefferson, The Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization, and is celebrated for its White House performances and hundreds of annual public concerts.
It was The Marine Band that first played the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the White House during a reception given by President Thomas Jefferson on July 4, 1806. At that time the tune was called “To Anacreon in Heaven,” and was the official drinking and feasting song of an amateur musicians’ club in London called the Anacreontic Society. A guest at the reception later recalled “an exquisite band of music [that] played at intervals martial, patriotic, and enlivening airs, which reverberated through the spacious dome.”
Some eight years later, Francis Scott Key wrote new words for the tune after witnessing Fort McHenry, Maryland, withstand a bombardment by the British Navy during the War of 1812. The new song became a popular, if challenging, patriotic song in the 19th century, though it was not made the national anthem until 1931.
We at Hammock join with you in celebrating our independence and thanking all the men and women who have laid their lives on the line to defend it since 1776. And we can’t think of a better way to kick off your celebration than by playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” as performed by “The President’s Own.”: