I’m listening to the John Williams soundtrack for the film “Lincoln.” It’s magnificent: pure Copland at times with its scoring, full of soaring melodies that could only be American. There are Wagnerian moments, snatches of Civil War tunes, a lovely string quartet.
It makes me wonder which other nations have a musical sound which is so easily and indisputably part of their national character, which reflects somehow in that intangible way their history and the ideals of their founders, as well as the endless physical variety and expanse of their country?
Perhaps the closest is the new South Africa. The kids in my band have been learning to play Nkosi Sikelei Afrika, with a simplified history of the song and the movement (and then nation) whose anthem it became.
Any other suggestions?