Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hail to the New Chief

In a few hours, Barack Obama will take the oath of office and become the 44th president of the United States of America. On a musical note, the inaugural ceremonies feature plenty of music, including selections from the US Marine Band, the San Francisco Boys Chorus and San Francisco Girls Chorus, Aretha Franklin, the national anthem performed by the US Navy Band Sea Chanters, and a new work by John Williams performed by Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero and Anthony McGill. Then there will be the parade, with lots of marching bands.

Later in the day, President Obama may first hear Hail to the Chief, the piece of music most closely tied to the office of President. It's been around a long time and has an interesting history. The original text is from Sir Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake just like Schubert's Ave Maria (though with a Goethe translation). These days Hail to the Chief is usually played by a military band without any singers.

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