The Corner

A Medley of Songs

Over the past three days, we’ve published a series called “Living with History.” It was spurred by the “Rhodes Must Fall” movement, a student movement that calls for the toppling of statues of Cecil Rhodes, the great British colonialist, imperialist, and philanthropist.

Did I say “calls for”? No, no: This is a movement that demands.

I begin today’s installment — the third and last — with the Maryland state song. There are those who want to abolish or change it. I support them, actually. The song is “basically a call to treason,” as Paul Mirengoff says. (He grew up in Maryland.) It urges Marylanders to rise up against the Union and join the Confederacy.

Along the way, I talk about William Wilberforce, Jimmy Carter, Oliver Cromwell, George W. Bush, Jon Stewart, David Koch, Barack Obama, and, perhaps above all, William F. Buckley Jr.

Here in the Corner, I thought I’d offer some musical links — the Maryland state song, for example. The bloody, nasty, treasonous words are set to the gentle music of “O Christmas Tree.” An interesting incongruity.

As I mention in my column, Leontyne Price, the soprano, and William Grant Still, the composer, went to Wilberforce University in Ohio. Here is Leontyne — “’tyne,” her brother General Price calls her — in “I Wish That I Knew How It Feels to Be Free.” And here is the first movement of Still’s Symphony No. 2, “Song of a New Race.”

It is played by my hometown orchestra, in a way: the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the excellent and versatile Estonian, Neeme Järvi. He was fairly young when he was in Detroit (I now realize)! He is now nearing 80, and I reviewed him in New York the other day.

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