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John Stafford Smith

John Stafford Smith (March 30, 1750 – September 21, 1836) was a British composer whose enduring legacy is closely tied to the United States as the composer of the music for "The Star-Spangled Banner," the U.S. national anthem.

Smith was born in Gloucester, England, and showed early promise as a musician. He received formal training and demonstrated his exceptional talent as an organist, violinist, and composer. Throughout his career, Smith composed numerous works, including operas, symphonies, and chamber music, establishing himself as a respected figure in the British music scene.

However, his most famous composition would come in 1773 when he created the melody that would later become the national anthem of the United States. The tune, originally titled "To Anacreon in Heaven," was used by an amateur musicians' club in London. Its popularity eventually caught the attention of Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer and amateur poet, who was inspired to write lyrics for it during the War of 1812.

In September 1814, during the Battle of Baltimore, Key penned the words that celebrated the resilience of the American flag and the defense of Fort McHenry. Set to Smith's melody, these verses became "The Star-Spangled Banner." The song was officially adopted as the U.S. national anthem in 1931.

While John Stafford Smith spent most of his life in England, his composition has become an enduring symbol of American patriotism. His musical legacy lives on every time Americans proudly sing their national anthem, standing together to honor the land of the free and the home of the brave.