When I was a 1950s kid, growing up in London, the anthem was sounded before important opera performances and concerts. Also before the first and last screenings at the local cinema. And at the theatre.
And then it stopped. When? Why?
I was reminded of its absence when a journalist in Fort Worth contacted me about a debate they are having at their symphony orchestra about playing the Star-Spangled Banner.
You can read his Qs and my As below, and here‘s the full article. But I’m wondering what you think. When and why did the anthem stop playing?
Q. You say you don’t miss the days of the National Anthem being played at various events in England, including symphony performances. Why do you feel it is out of place?
A. Times have changed. There was more pomp and circumstance about a live performance 50 years ago. Now it’s less formal. I prefer the informality.
Q. Do you feel that it ruins the mood that the conductor is trying to convey with the rest of the evening’s programming? Does it make the concert feel more like a football game?
A. It’s a distraction. I go to a concert for art and elevation, not national service.
Q. Would you worry that it panders to an empty, rote form of patriotism?
A. At a football game, it creates an illusion of unity in a divisive atmosphere. It can feel false. Myself, I’d prefer the anthem to be reserved for solemn and state occasions.