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July 4 historic celebratory music for USA Independence Day, from 1825

More Revolutionary and many later compositions for this unique American National Public Holiday

Classical Music History: Anniversaries and Great Moments, by these authors, will be a daily website and/or a book for every day of the calendar year. It will feature the major events that happened that day world-wide in First Performances or Premieres of major musical works of art. We begin with July 4, Independence Day in the USA. We focus on the Independence Day-related musical works. Some are very well known but many are no longer known by modern audiences and are very rarely if ever played, even at July 4 concerts by American orchestras.

By Keith A. Forbes and his wife Lois Ann Forbes at Both disabled, they live in Sovereign Harbour North, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England and write, administer and webmaster this website. Keith is a member of the UK's The Society of Authors and a consumer activist for the elderly and the disabled. 

See Part 1 for earlier compositions

The Minstral's Return From The War

Patriotic song. By the prominent British-born American-naturalized composer James Hewitt. It premiered on July 4, 1825.

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Photo by author Keith A. Forbes

L'oncle D'amerique (The Uncle Of America)

Vaudeville in 1 act, by the French composer Adolphe (Charles) Adam (of O Holy Night fame) with the text by the famous French librettist Augustin-Eugene Scribe and Mazeres. It premiered on March 14, 1826.

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Photo by author Keith A. Forbes

America ("My Country 'tis of Thee")

Hear it at

Patriotic Song. Originally written for piano, violin and choir. Now known most frequently by the longer title. Written in February, 1832, by the American Baptist clergyman and poet Samuel Francis Smith (1808-1895). The music is from an old German and British ("God Save the King") melody. His friend Lowell Mason had asked him to translate the lyrics in some German school songbooks or to write new lyrics. Rather than translating the lyrics from German, Smith wrote his own American patriotic hymn to the German and British Royal melody. Smith gave Mason the lyrics he had written and the song was first performed in public on July 4, 1831, at a children's Independence Day celebration at Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts. The song served as a de facto national anthem of the United States before the adoption of "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the official anthem in 1931.

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Photo by author Keith A. Forbes

Nearer My God To Thee

A hymn, written in about 1850 by the American composer and teacher Lowell Mason. It became - and remains - a standard hymn in Christian churches around the world. It was the final fitting piece of music, played on deck with stoic appreciation of their fate, by members of the orchestra of the British ship Titanic, after she struck an iceberg and just before she sank in 1912, to calm the passengers still on board. The American composer Charles Ives quotes the melody in his Symphony Number 4 and other works, to evoke the spirit in which Lowell wrote it - the devotional atmosphere of old America.

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Photo by author Keith A. Forbes

Bunker's Hill

A thundering work for ten pianos, based on American tunes, written in 1852 by the American-born composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the son of a cultured British Jewish businessman who settled in the USA. The original version of this work was known as The Seige Of Saragossa and it was written in Spain by the composer, during his 1851-1852 residence there, when he was the darling of the Spanish public and Queen Isabela II. It was a work for one of his famous Spanish "monster concerts." When Gottschalk returned to the USA in 1852, he replaced the Spanish tunes of The Seige Of Saragossa with American tunes and re-titled it Bunker's Hill, to commemorate the first American Revolutionary War battle (in actuality fought on Breed's Hill, near Boston's Bunker Hill) in June, 1775.

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Photo by author Keith A. Forbes

Columbia, The Gem Of The Ocean

This patriotic American song, otherwise known in the 50 United States as the Red, White and Blue, was composed sometime in the middle of the 18th century, but no one knows for sure by whom. An English actor, Thomas a Becket, claimed authorship, but could never give satisfactory proof. With equal patriotic fervour, it is known in Great Britain as Britannia, the Pride of the Ocean, or (also) the Red, White and Blue. With both nations having red, white and blue as the colors of their national flags and having equal claims for paternity, of the song, it remains today as both American and British.

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Photo by author Keith A. Forbes


A song with a haunting tune, that somehow become associated ardently with the Confederate cause during the American Civil War. In actuality, it was written by a Northerner, Daniel Decateur Emmet, of Ohio, and was published in 1859.

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Photo by author Keith A. Forbes

Battle Hymn Of The Republic

Here it at

The words were written by Julia Ward Howe in 1862, during the American Civil War, to the already-famous melody of Glory, Glory, Hallelulah! (the composer of which is unknown). Another set of words starts with the line John Brown's Body Lies A-Mouldering in the Grave.

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Photo by author Keith A. Forbes

Battle Cry Of Freedom

An American Civil War ballad written by the American composer George Frederick Root in 1862, allegedly inspired after reading a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln. After being pressed on a customer to sing at a patriotic rally, it made history in 1863 as the rallying song in the Union forces. President Lincoln wrote in gratitude to the composer, declaring that the song had done more for the Union's cause than 100 generals and 1,000 orators. Root's other Civil War-time song hits included The Vacant Chair (1861); Kingdom Coming (1862); Just Before the Battle, Mother; Marching Through Georgia (1865); and Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (1865).

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Photo by author Keith A. Forbes

The Marines' Hymn

"From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli." So-called because of its references to the landing of United States Marines in North Africa, during the war against the Barbary pirates after the American-British War of 1812-14 (long before their arrival in Mexico City in 1847). However, the melody is from the very successful French operetta Genevieve De Brabant, by credited to the German-born composer Jacques Offenbach, who resided in Paris. The melody premiered in France in 1859 and was published in 1868.

No one knows for sure whether this piece from the operetta was actually composed by Offenbach, or whether he "borrowed" it from another source. But given his talents and capacity to produce sparkling or catchy melodies, it is 75 percent entirely probable that he did so either before the operetta or specifically for it). All we know for sure is that the uncopyrighted sheet music edition of the U.S. Marine Corps Publicity Bureau in 1918 attributed the text - not the music - to an unidentified Marine officer during the Mexican war. How they came to be attached to the Offenbach melody is still a mystery. Or put another way, how they were probably pirated from the composer and put into Marine Corps possession is also a mystery.

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Photo by author Keith A. Forbes

American Centennial March

Composed to commemorate the Centenary of the American Declaration of Independence. Written in February, 1876 by the internationally-famous German opera and other music composer Richard Wilhelm Wagner. It was an official American commission - for which he was paid $5,000. But later, problems occurred, to help explain why this melody is rarely played these days. Perhaps because Wagner was labeled as anti-Jewish. Also, his operas were said to have inspired Adolf Hitler. Anyway, this Centennial March has not been given the prominence it deserves.

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Photo by author Keith A. Forbes

The Centennial Meditation Of Columbus

A cantata, written in 1876 by the American composer Dudley Buck Jr. at the behest of German-born, American-naturalized musical missionary and orchestra leader Theodore Thomas. Buck and poet Sidney Lanier (who supplied the text) collaborated on this work, performed in Philadelphia in 1876 for the Centenary of the American Declaration of Independence.

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Te Deum

A solemn hymn-song of thanksgiving, salutation and commemoration, written in 1892 to honor the 400th anniversary of the "discovery" of the New World in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, by the Czech composer Antonin Leopold Dvorak. He brought the work with him when he arrived in the United States in 1892 for his extended visit.

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Symphony No. 9 In E-Minor ("From The New World")

Correct title of the acclaimed "New World Symphony" also by Antonin Leopold Dvorak, written by him in 1892 and 1893 during his extended stay in the USA. Dvorak made it clear that the alternative title of "From the New World" was for a purpose - to convey in music, with appreciation, awe and gratitude to the USA, his "Impressions and Greetings from the New World." The work premiered at Carnegie Hall, New York City, on December 16, 1893.

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America The Beautiful

Patriotic Song. Hear it at by Ray Charles. With words by the American academic Katherine Lee Bates and music by the American composer Samuel Augustus Ward. It premiered on July 4, 1893.

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American Flag

A choral work, by the Czech composer Antonin Leopold Dvorak, written during his sojourn in the United States from 1892 to 1894.

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American Quartet

String Quartet in F Major, Opus 96, again by the Czech composer Antonin Leopold Dvorak. Written during his sojourn in the United States, from 1892 to 1894.

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The Stars And Stripes Forever

March. Completed on December 25, 1897, by the celebrated American composer, violinist and bandmaster John Philip Sousa. He was the American-born son of a Spanish-born Portuguese father and Bavarian-born German mother both immigrants to the USA. This march was so successful that it earned Sousa some $300,000 - an enormous sum in his day.

Break The News To Mother

A sentimental ballad, written in 1897, with words and music by the American composer Charles K. Harris. This commemorates a badly wounded drummer boy in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War who, realizing he will never return home, whispers the words to a Negro slave. We do not know whether such a historical event actually happened, but the ballad became very popular during the Spanish-American War.

Land Of Hope And Glory

A march, used by many American high schools as a processional for graduation ceremonies - and undoubtedly assumed by many to be American in origin. In fact, it is a British march, written in 1901 by the British composer Sir Edward Elgar. Its proper title is Pomp and Circumstance March No.1, of the set of orchestral marches under that main title. It is the middle section of the march that was set to the words "Land of Hope and Glory." The title "Pomp and Circumstance" comes from Othello by William Shakespeare. Marches 1 and 2 premiered in Liverpool, England, on October 19, 1901.

New England Idyls

Opus 62 of the American composer Edward MacDowell, for piano, written in 1901-1902. This work is in 10 parts, namely 1. An Old Garden; 2. Mid-summer; 3. Mid-winter; 4. With Sweet Lavender; 5. In Deep Woods; 6. Indian Idyl; 7. To an Old White Pine; 8. From Puritan Days; 9. From a Log Cabin; 10. The Joy of Autumn.

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Three Places In New England

One of the most important works in American music, written by the American composer Charles Edward Ives from 1903 to 1905. The three places are St. Gauden's monument on Boston Common; Putnam's Camp in Redding, Connecticut, and the Housatonic at Stockbridge

The music is evocative of the American Civil War. Ives quotes fragments of popular American hymns and ballads. In 1930, Ives reduced the original score to suit a chamber orchestra, in accordance with the wishes of Nicolas Slonimsky, who premiered the revised version in New York on January 10, 1931, with his Chamber Orchestra of Boston. This reduction became the standard for all subsequent performances until the rediscovery of the original score for large orchestra, which was published in 1980, 26 years after the composer's death.

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Union And Liberty

A choral work, for chorus and band or orchestra, Opus 60, by the American composer Horatio William Parker, commissioned for and performed at the inauguration of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905.

The Redskin, Or The Last Of His Race

Incidental music, written in 1906 by the American composer Henry Franklin Belknap Gilbert, unfortunately now lost.

American Dances

An arrangement for piano duet, taken from his opera Uncle Remus, written in 1906 by the American composer Henry Franklin Belknap Gilbert.

The Caissons Go Rolling Along

A song composed by Edmund Gruber in 1907 for the Fifth United States Artillery in the Philippine Islands. The American composer, violinist and bandleader John Philip Sousa arranged it for band. Eventually, it became a semi-official march for the Artillery, then the US Army.


For orchestra. Opus 5, written in about 1902-1908, by the American composer Henry Franklin Belknap Gilbert. It was published in 1913 as Humoresque.

Four American Indian Songs

(Including "From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water"). Music was originally from the Omaha and Winnebago Indian tribes, collected in 1909 by the American composer Charles Wakefield Cadman and set to verses by his lyricist Nellie Richmond Eberhart.

The Intimate Story Of Indian Tribal Life

Subtitled "The Story of a Vanishing Race." A dramatic work, written in 1911, by the American composer Henry Franklin Belknap Gilbert, turned into 21 small orchestral pieces for lectures by E. S. Curtis. The source of Gilbert's Indian Scenes and Indian Sketches.

A Rouse For Roosevelt

Song, written in 1912 by the American composer Henry Franklin Belknap Gilbert, with lyrics by G. L. Farwell.

Thunderbird Suite

For orchestra. Written in 1913 from his experiences among the Indian tribes. By the American composer Charles Wakefield Cadman.

To Thee, America

For chorus and orchestra; also for soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Written in 1914 by the American composer Henry Franklin Belknap Gilbert.

Give Me The Splendid Silent Sun

Song, written in 1914, by the American composer Henry Franklin Belknap Gilbert, with lyrics by Whitman.

Hail, California

In honor of the Golden State, written in 1915, at the age of 80, by the French composer Charles Camille Saint-Saens and conducted by him personally at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition held in San Diego, where he was an official emissary of the Government of France.

Fourth Of July

Symphonic work by the American composer Charles Edward Ives, in which he assembled a heterogeneous orchestra with a wildly dissonant climax representing the explosion of fireworks, so common in a Fourth of July celebration. In his memorandum on the work, in which he noted that it was pure program music - and pure abstract music - Ives added a quotation from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the 1884 literary masterpiece of the great American humorist and writer Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), whose pen name was Mark Twain: "You pays yer money and you gets yer choice."

Over There

A patriotic song, written by the American composer and lyricist George M. Cohan in 1917, shortly after the United States entered World War I against Germany. It sold more than 2 million copies of sheet music and a million phonograph records. The great tenor Enrico Caruso sang it for American troops. Cohan received the Congressional Gold Medal for it and it was featured in Cohan's movie biography, Yankee Doodle Dandy, filmed in 1942.

The Yankee Doodle Boy

A patriotic song, written by the American composer and lyricist George M. Cohan, who was born on July 4.

God Bless America

American patriotic song. Written in 1918 by Irving Berlin, for a show at Camp Yaphank, when he served in the US Army. It lay dormant until 1938, when the American soprano Kate Smith sang it on a radio program on Armistice Day. With expectations of another war, it created a lasting impression. During World War 2, it became an unofficial national anthem. On February 18, 1955, President Eisenhower presented Irving Berlin with a Gold Medal, in appreciation for his service to his country in writing it. Periodically, petitions are circulated to have this song replace The Star-Spangled Banner as the National Anthem. The tune can be more easily sung and the lyrics have a wider patriotic application. Also they contain no vindictive references to Great Britain, now one of America's allies, as do some of the words in Key's original version.

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Many more in our records - this is just a selection

Keith also writes

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Keith A. Forbes and Lois A Forbes at  
2019. Revised: February 14, 2019