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Sheet Music of the Week: Bunker Hill Edition

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"Bunker Hill" by Albert Von Tilzer and Sam Ehrlich, pub. by York Music Co. in 1904. Music Division, Library of Congress.

Last Sunday, June 17, marked the 237th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, where on a hilltop just outside of Boston over 1000 members of the rebel army put up a valiant fight against two infantry charges by the highly organized (and significantly larger) British forces. Though the Americans were defeated by the third charge, they inflicted heavy casualties on the British (it was the highest casualty count suffered by the British throughout the entire Revolutionary War); so much so that the British suddenly realized what a fight they had on their hands, and the Americans were instilled with a renewed hope of ultimate victory.

Of course, what would an historical anniversary be without a little music to commemorate it? This week’s Sheet Music of the Week features Albert Von Tilzer’s rousing march song, “Bunker Hill.” Von Tilzer was a prolific songwriter of popular music during the early 20th century (he’s responsible for the classic, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” as well!); in fact, the Performing Arts Encyclopedia includes over 40 pieces of digitized sheet music by Von Tilzer.

Check out some depictions of the Battle of Bunker Hill in the Library’s Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, and then take some time to listen to this recording of Von Tilzer’s “Bunker Hill” featuring Billy Murray, one of the most popular American singers who starred in vaudeville and recorded heavily during the early 20th century. Follow along with the sheet music as you listen, and remember the great importance of the legendary Battle of Bunker Hill!

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