203 years ago today, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships during the War of 1812. His inspiration for the poem was the sight of the American Flag that still waved in the air above the fort after the victory. His poem went on to serve as the lyrics used for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was first ordered to be played at military and naval occasions by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. In 1918, the Service Version of the National Anthem was prepared by a committee of twelve men, nine of whom were Sinfonians.


John Alden Carpenter – Alpha Chapter Honorary, 1917
(The New England Conservatory of Music)

Frederick S. Converse – Lambda Chapter Honorary, 1911
(DePuaw University)

Wallace Goodrich – Alpha Alpha National Honorary, 1912

Music Educator’s National Conference Representatives

Chairman, Peter W. Dykema – Phi Chapter, 1921
(University of Wisconsin – Madison)

Hollis E. Dann – Delta Chapter Honorary, 1905
(Ithaca College)

Osbourne McConathy – Iota Chapter, 1917
(Northwestern University)

Music Publishers

Clarence C. Birchard – Alpha Theta Honorary, 1923
(Miami University – Oxford)

William Arms Fisher – Beta Epsilon Chapter, 1928
(New York University)

E. W. Newton – Alpha Honorary, 1932
(The New England Conservatory of Music)

The Chairman of the Committee, Brother Dykema (Pictured), was Sinfonia’s Supreme President from 1922-1928. During the years when these men were establishing the music of our nation, Dykema primarily was reviving Sinfonia after World War I and the death of the Sinfonia’s Founder Ossian E. Mills (1920). Dykema was also one of the primary authors of Sinfonia’s Initiation Ritual of 1926, acting as Chairman of the Ritual Revision Committee while serving as Supreme President (1922-1928). There is no perhaps no greater example of Sinfonia’s mission in American music than for these Sinfonians to have established our country’s National Anthem.

In 1931 Congress designated “The Star-Spangled Banner” as our country’s National Anthem. Dykema served again on the 1942 National Anthem Committee, representing the original committee.

Hail Sinfonia!

Sinfonia thanks John Mongiovi, National President 2009-2015, for his historical research on the contributions of Sinfonians to the establishment of the National Anthem. John recently shared a memory with us from his time spent at a workshop in Redlands, California back in September 2001 following the attacks on 9/11:

“Following a long workshop Saturday, as we were dispersing after dinner we sang the National Anthem, and everyone in the restaurant stood. Many people put their hands over their hearts and/or sang. We walked down the strip and sang at restaurant after restaurant that night. Each time people stopped, stood, and sang. I will never forget that palpable feeling of unity in something greater than ourselves, a vivid expression of universal Brotherhood through the power of music. Dykema was recognized for creating national unity through community singing and student singing of patriotic songs. This was our legacy and ideals in action.”