Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Tuesday, October 1

Flagg-waving in Colonial Boston?

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1768, two regiments of British redcoats marched into colonial Boston accompanied by martial music provided by their regimental wind band. It was that city’s introduction to the exotic sound of massed oboes, bassoons, and French horns.

One Bostonian who was very impressed by these new sounds was Josiah Flagg, an engraver by trade, and a boyhood friend of the famous Boston silversmith, Paul Revere. Before long, Flagg had formed his own musical ensemble, which he called “The First Band of Boston.”

Flagg organized that city’s first concert series, presenting music by J.C. Bach, Stamitz, and other European composers. Occasionally, the First Band of Boston was augmented by musicians from the same British regiment whose entry into town had inspired Flagg’s own musical ambitions.

In October of 1773, Flagg presented a gala concert at Boston’s Faneuil Hall, which proved to be his last. He included music from Britain — excerpts from Handel’s “Messiah” — but closed with the “Song of Liberty,” the marching hymn of Boston’s patriots. We rather suspect the British troops did not participate in THAT concert.

Soon after, Flagg moved to Providence, where he served as a colonel in the Rhode Island regiment during the American Revolution, and disappeared from our early musical history.

Music Played in Today's Program

Oliver Shaw Gov. Arnold's March Members of the Federal Music Society; John Baldon, cond. New World 80299

Additional Information

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