So I guess I wasn’t the only one to notice that the arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner” being played at the Olympics is a little less strident than usual. As the Washinton Post article describes, at “the rockets’ red glare” portion of the piece, instead of triumphant war trumpets, we get thinly orchestrated strings. It’s quite beautiful, I think. It kind of reminds me of Barber’s Adagio.

Not knowing how the process works, I assumed that someone on the US Olympic Committee had gotten sensitive to the worldwide impression of Americans as bomastic jerks and tried to make our image a little more humble. Not so. It turns out this arrangement was written by a Czech-Canadian, who was chosen to re-orchestrate all of the anthems for this Olympics. That seems like a weird approach, and apparently even the Canadians aren’t too happy about a jazzed-up version of “O Canada,” but I love it that a Canadian wrote a kinder, gentler “Star Spangled Banner” for us.