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Hail to the Chief - Songs of the Presidents

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Since Thomas Jefferson's election to the White House over two hundred years ago, The United States Marine Band has been known as 'The President's Own.' Presidents throughout history have recognized and admired the unique legacy and service of these exceptional musicians. Hail to the Chief traces the rich musical history of the Marine Band and pays tribute to its service to the President. Research was done into the lives of past presidents to determine their favorite songs and pieces in order to produce an album that serves as a memorial to the presidents and the music of their time. The album features a personal, spoken-word tribute by the late President Reagan, as well as narrative excerpts from the inaugural addresses of FDR, JFK, Truman, and Eisenhower. Now, Hail to the Chief is being re-released at a special new price! Don't miss this opportunity to own a recording of some of the best wind band recordings available!
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Product Details

  • Composer: John Bacchus Dykes, Alice Hawthorne, Scott Joplin, John Knowles Paine, Philip Phile, et al.
  • Audio CD (January 11, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Altissimo!
  • ASIN: B0006SSP6C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,367 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By George Barkman on February 2, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Hail to the Chief is the latest of about twenty-seven CDs offered by "Altissimo!", which offer recordings of the USA's fine military service musical organizations. Until Altissimo!, these recording were very rare and just about impossible to find. Thanks to Altissimo! every one can appreciate and enjoy the fine music of these top-notch musical organizations.

The program in Hail to the Chief is a tribute to our presidents. It is a varied program that shows the depth of the music played by one of America's oldest, established in 1798, and finest musical organizations, the United States Marine Band. This CD contains twenty-one marches and other classical numbers from Sousa to Strauss to Tchaikovsky. Some of the music in the CD is rare and for this reason alone of interest to music history buffs. One of these selections is a recording of the "Star-Spangled Banner" using the earliest published arrangement (1814) of the anthem. Another is the "Solemn March" played at Lincoln's funeral. Also included a rarely recorded Sousa piece, "Easter Monday on the White House Lawn." There is also an historic 1906 recording of Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag."

The recording also contains excerpts from speeches made by five of our presidents four of which were from inaugural addresses. The program notes explain the musical selections and how each was of interest to the various presidents.

The only negative, and it is not with the CD itself, is that the program notes do not include recording dates, where recorded and who the conductor of the band was. I highly recommend this CD to all interested in the America's patriotic music as well as the serious collector of military music and those interested in the musical roots of our country.

George Barkman
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Format: Audio CD
Despite the fact that most of our presidents are not worth remembering in music; this is none the less an interesting CD. Altissimo! has done its usualy bit of culling through the Marine Band library to dig out enough appropriate pieces to put together on one CD. No original recordings here! We should be glad that its a full length selection of over 60 mins for a change, instead of the old 45 min. cheats in the past! Still, the different sound qualities of the various tracks is distracting at times.

Most labels when they combine different recordings together usually list the recording date and who conducted the band at that time. Altissimo! has not graduated to that level of professionalism in their products yet. Hence we just get The US Marine Band, not when it was recorded and who might be directing it!

Fortunately, the quality of the Marine Band is so good that it does not matter what Altissimo! does in putting together a CD. That said, the music provides an interesting chronology of ceremonial music played at the White House over the years. The linear notes are an improvment over the past, when little or nothing was provided. All and all, not bad from what we have come to expect from Altissimo!
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Format: Audio CD
Hail to the Chief is unique, educational and without question, absolutely wonderful!

I was initially puzzled by the selections but as I began to listen and read the short narrative that is offered I started to realize I was being taken on a very different trip through American history. Consequently, the impact of the program had a totally unexpected and fascinating effect.

I was not just mesmerized by the sounds I heard, the arrangements which were presented or the memorable utterances of some of our Chief Executives. I was completely entranced by the realization that these men and others who had held the office of President of the United States, had listened and reacted to the same music the CD offers. It gave me an insight into their humanity that text books cannot provide.

As an example, I hadn't known the original sheet music for the "Star Spangled Banner" was arranged differently from the way we listen to it today --- who know how many Americans heard it played that way?

I had never actually thought about the fact that Washington might have actually heard "Hail Columbia" played, just as I was hearing it.

I was a bit startled that Chester Arthur commanded Sousa to compose what became the "Presidential Polonaise" and tried to imagine how much pressure he, (Sousa), must have felt in doing the President's bidding. (By the way, after listening to that unquestionably superb composition of the "March King", I must admit despite its delightful sound, I'm very pleased that we no longer use that as the official march of the President and we have returned to "Hail to the Chief".
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Format: Audio CD
Listening to the latest CD from Altissimo! brought pleasure to my ears. Whether you like listening to ballads, waltzes, Hungarian Dances, or marches you will find something on this CD that you will love to listen to. This wonderful compilation presents the listener with music favored by 23 of our United States Presidents, and includes bonus tracks of excerpts from four inaugural speeches.
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