The drinking song that founded an empire
“The Anacreontic Song“, also known by its incipit “To Anacreon In Heaven“, was the official song of the Anacreontic Society, an 18th-century gentlemen’s club of amateur musicians in London. Attributed to the composer John Stafford Smith, the tune was later used by several writers as a setting for their patriotic lyrics. These included two songs by Francis Scott Key, most famously his poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry”. The latter combination became known as “The Star-Spangled Banner” and was adopted as the national anthem of the United States of America, in 1931.
These barristers, doctors, and other professional men named their club after the Greek court poet Anacreon (6th century BC), whose poems, called “anacreontics”, were used to entertain patrons in Teos and Athens. His songs often celebrated women, wine, and entertainment (“wine, woman, and song”).
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