Igor Stravinsky, the Star Spangled Banner, and the Boston Police

igor stravinsky mug shot star spangled banner bostonNeil Gaiman just brought the story of the arrest of Igor Stravinsky in Boston for tampering with national anthem to BoingBoing.

The details: Modernist composer Igor Stravinsky actually arranged the Star Spangled Banner four different ways, but fell afoul of Massachusetts Law in 1940, when the work was performed by the Boston Symphony. An account from The Washington Post:

[A]fter the first performance, which left the audience “stunned into bewildered silence,” Boston cops showed up at a later concert to make sure he didn’t repeat the offense.

Stravinsky published a score of the anthem in 1941, waiving his performance fees.

You can listen to a sample to his version here. It also turns out there’s a whole genre of newspaper articles examining reinterpretations of national anthems published around a translation of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ into Spanish in 2006. Besides The Washington Post‘s edition, The New York Times version, penned by Rebecca Skloot, and there’s my personal favorite, ‘Oy Vey, can you see…‘ from The Boston Globe.


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