Jeanne Behrend Festival Fanfare Program Notes
Native Philadelphian Jeanne Behrend was a pianist and composer who graduated from Curtis, going on to teach at various times at Temple University, Philadelphia’s Conservatory of Music, and the Juilliard School. As a performer, she emphasized American composers, and as a scholar, researched and published music by Stephen Foster and Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Honors awarded to Behrend included Brazil’s Order of the Southern Cross. Her papers, including several compositions for piano, orchestra, or chamber ensemble, are held by the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Behrend composed the Festival Fanfare – Prelude to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” in 1959, and it received its first performance that year at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that September, played by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and conducted by their associate conductor, William Smith. (Smith, who passed away in 1993, first joined the Orchestra in 1952 as staff pianist, and would go on to lead the orchestral program at Curtis and serve as Music Director of the Allentown Symphony.)
The short Behrend fanfare leads directly into The Star-Spangled Banner, a tune originally composed by John Stafford Smith for a gentlemen’s club in London. As was common with these kinds of anthems, all sorts of words were written to go with it, and following the war of 1812, the poem by Francis Scott Key concerning the Defense of Fort McHenry. The United States adopted this combination of tune and poem as the national anthem in 1931.