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 John Stafford Smith

John Stafford Smith

Birth
Gloucester, City of Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England
Death 21 Sep 1836 (aged 86)
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Burial Gloucester, City of Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England
Memorial ID 10216 · View Source
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Composer. Born in Gloucester, the son of Martin Smith, who was the organist for Gloucester Cathedral. He attended the Gloucester Cathedral school, and there joined the boys choir. He then studied under Dr William Boyce in London, beginning a long association with the Chapel Royal. He began there as a chorister in 1761, later becoming a Gentleman of the Chapel. He also held the post of lay vicar at Westminster Abbey starting in 1785. He became an organist for the Gloucester Music Meeting in 1790, and at the Chapel Royal in 1802. From 1805 until 1817, he was the Chapel's Master of the Children. He published some five collections of a capella pieces called glees, including songs like "Flora Now Calleth Forth Each Flower." Smith avidly collected music, and has been called the first English musicologist. He published “A Collection of English Song” in 1779, and in 1812, he published his opus, “Musica Antiqua,” an anthology of vocal works and dance music from the twelfth through eighteenth centuries. He was a member of the select Royal Anacreontic Society, a London gentleman's club, and about 1775, he wrote the music for "To Anacreon in Heaven," with lyrics by the society president. The song became the theme of the Society. His tune became quite popular, and was applied to several sets of lyrics over its history, including "Adams and Liberty" and “When the Warrior Returns from the Battle Afar,” the latter written by Francis Key in 1805. In 1814, Key again borrowed Smith's tune, setting his poem, “The Defense of Fort McHenry” to it. The music and lyrics were adopted as the national anthem of the US under the title “The Star Spangled Banner” in 1931. Smith died at the age of eighty-six, and was buried at Gloucester, where a memorial plaque is flanked by both the British and American flags.

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 29 Jun 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10216
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Stafford Smith (30 Mar 1750–21 Sep 1836), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10216, citing Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, City of Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .