For a more glorious Fourth
My worthy colleague Tim Smith, The Sun’s music critic, questioned this week why we have to have the 1812 Overture as the centerpiece of every Independence Day concert with fireworks.
Indeed, why associate our national holiday with Tchaikovsky’s gimcrack celebration of General Kutuzov’s thwarting of Napoleon at the Battle of Borodino? Mr. Smith’s suggestion is to rework the Tchaikovsky overture (which the composer apparently despised anyhow) by inserting a version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in place of the czarist hymn at the climax.
But have we no national music worthy of the day? Indeed we do. We have the Festival Overture on “The Star-Spangled Banner,” by Dudley Buck, orchestrated from his set of variations for the organ. It is not frequently heard, and recordings are scarce, but it is available. And you can set off fireworks to it as well as to any other composition.
Too late for this year, but perhaps next Independence Day some conductor will have the grit to Bring Back Buck.