In the United States, Presidents' Day, also known as Washington's Birthday, is considered a federal holiday. It is observed on the third Monday of February, which this year falls on February 21.
Although this holiday is legally known as Washington's Birthday (in honor of the first president of the United States), it is more commonly known today as Presidents' Day. One of the reasons for this is that Abraham Lincoln (the 16th president of the United States), was also born in the month of February. Today, Presidents' Day is celebrated in honor of Washington and Lincoln; and generally, to recognize all U.S. presidents.
George Washington and Music
George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in Virginia. He was unanimously elected as President of the United States and served for two terms. Washington had much appreciation for music. It is said that he used to play piano duets with his step-granddaughter Nellie. Nellie's piano teacher was a composer and performer named Alexander Reinagle. Aside from piano, Reinagle also taught the harpsichord.
In 1789, Reinagle published the song "Chorus" which was dedicated to George Washington. The said song was performed for Washington's inaugural journey. This song is considered the first song ever composed for a U.S. President.
Other songs composed for George Washington are:
- Ode on the Birthday of his Excellency George Washington - Performed by the "Adopted Sons" in 1786.
- Ode in Honour of General Washington - Composed by William Selby and performed in Boston on April 27, 1786.
- In 1788, Francis Hopkinson published 8 songs that were dedicated to George Washington.
- Hail Columbia - Also called "President's March," this music was composed by Philip Phile and the words was set by Joseph Hopkinson. This was performed in 1789 for Washington's inauguration.
- Ode to the President of the United States - Composed by Hans Gram, a German composer.
- In 1790, Samuel Holyoke published a song in honor of Washington.
- Washington's Counsel Forever Huzza! - Composed and sung by Clifford as part of an opera on January 22, 1794.
- Song on General Washington - Composed by Alexander Juhan.
- Washington and Liberty - Written by Pownall and performed in 1796 during Washington's birthday.
- The Battle of Trenton - A composition by James Hewitt for the piano.
George Washington died on December 14, 1799. To mourn his death and honor his memory, numerous songs were composed for him. Among them are:
- Dead March and Monody - By Benjamin Carr and performed during Washington's funeral services.
- A Funeral Dirge - Composed by Van Hagen.
- From Vernon's Mount Behold the Hero Rise - This is one of the compositions by Oliver Holden for Washington's memorial services.