From The Wall Street Journal, by David Dubal:
The best Fourth of July celebration I could give myself would be to play through (even sloppily) Louis Moreau Gottschalk's dazzling display of fireworks, "The Union: Concert Paraphrase on National Airs." It's a terrific concoction of approximately eight minutes of American patriotic tunes, where Gottschalk weaves together "Yankee Doodle," "Hail, Columbia" and "The Star-Spangled Banner," the last not yet the official anthem of the United States. Composed in 1862, Gottschalk (1829-1869) dedicated "The Union" to his favorite Union general, George B. McClellan.
The composition begins with a brilliant cannonade of octaves followed by a downward right-hand cadenza, as the composer leads to an exposition of the "The Star-Spangled Banner" marked malinconico, or melancholy. He then proceeds with trumpet calls and echoes on the piano, followed by droll drum rolls heard no less than 76 times in the left hand deep in the bass while playing "Hail, Columbia" in the right hand. Gottschalk is now ready to combine "Yankee Doodle" in the right hand with "Hail, Columbia" in the left in deft counterpoint. More trumpet calls follow, and then a blast of triple fortissimo octaves, Con Furia, plunging from the key of B-flat into a plush E-flat major, and once more joins "Yankee Doodle" with "Hail, Columbia," this time in glorious chordal pomp. It all ends grandioso, in triumph.
I cannot let the celebration of Independence Day go by without reminding you of the issues of religious liberty that we face in the U.S.A. today. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a letter, joined by signatories as diverse as the Krishnas, the Church of Scientology, the Southern Baptist Convention, many Catholic university presidents, the Anglican Church in North America, many other Evangelical Christian organizations, etc, etc, all "Standing Together for Religious Freedom."
And just a couple more reminders about the colonial efforts to promote religious freedom in Maryland with my two part review of Papist Patriots: The Making of American Catholic Identity by Maura Jane Farrelly, here and here. And don't forget that I wrote about Maryland's contribution to religious freedom in OSV's The Catholic Answer Magazine earlier this year.
God Bless America!