Program Notes for America, The Beautiful

Composer: Samuel Augustus Ward
Arranger: Carmen Dragon

America the Beautiful is one of the most beloved and popular of American patriotic songs. From time to time it has been proposed as a replacement for The Star-Spangled Banner. When Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, this song was played as the welcome music.

The lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates and the music composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel Augustus Ward. Bates originally wrote the words as a poem, published in 1895. At that time, it was titled simply America.

Ward had originally written the music titled Materna, for a hymn. Ward’s music combined with the Bates poem was first published in 1910 as “America the Beautiful.”

Carmen Dragon was an American conductor, composer, and arranger who worked in radio, film, and television, in addition to live performances and recording. He was very active in pops music conducting and composed scores for several films. He shared an Oscar in 1944 with Morris Stoloff and won an Emmy in 1964 for a Christmas special. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his more than 5000 hours of radio broadcasts.

His magnificent orchestral arrangement of “America the Beautiful” soared to immense popularity. Dragon’s own rescoring of this arrangement for symphonic band retains all the sweeping grandeur and has proven equally popular.

Please enjoy with us now Carmen Dragon’s lush arrangement of the beloved America the Beautiful.