Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Lost National Geographic Theme: Part I - The Discovery

The National Geographic Theme by Elmer Bernstein is the closest thing to an anthem geography has.  Just sit back and imagine the glories of geography for a moment as you listen:

This theme from 1966 has resonated through the imaginations of generations.  It ignites the spirit of discovery and exploration.  It is National Geographic.  However, it is not the first National Geographic theme. 

The local library I go to has a librarian whose personal hobby is collecting old sheet music.  During a recent trip he told me how he had a copy of the "National Geographic song from the 1930s."  Interested, I made a deal with him to trade some geography books in my personal collection for the sheet music.  It was a good deal.

Jackpot! Scan of the cover.
The sheet music is entitled "The National Geographic March" and was composed in 1936 by Thomas F. Darcy Jr in 1936.  Darcy was the head of the United States Army Band during the time of the composition and had a long career in the military and military music.  The march was dedicated to then National Geographic President Gilbert Grosvenor.  While there is no official stamp of National Geographic approval in the booklet the name, cover, and dedication somesort of de facto approval.

Currently I am contacting people I know in National Geographic to see if there is any historian office I can contact about this music.  However, from personal knowledge, old National Geographic contacts, and an extensive internet search I believe National Geographic has forgotten this piece of music.

Sadly the music is beyond my piano playing "abilities" which my mother tried so hard to teach me.  I am trying to get some personal contacts to play the music for recording and sharing.  The sheet music is embeded below and I am willing to e-mail anyone a copy if they can aid in creating a computer music file or uploading a video of them performing the piece onto YouTube.

I will post any updates on my effort to find out more about this music and hopefully share the sound of this music so it can be heard again after being apparently lost to time.


Twelve Mile circle said...

What a great find! I'd love to hear it once you find someone with musical talent. Sadly I am completely lacking in that ability.

Tony Burton said...

Fantastic find! What fun! Does Geographic Travels have its own theme song?

Catholicgauze said...

Any music with a geographical element is the theme for Geographic Travels. I prefer to think of it as an universalist blog!

i. jones said...

How can I send you a copy of the mp3 of the March? ... It's a fun one.

Catholicgauze said...

Hi i. jones,
E-mail me at catholicgauze at gmail dot com for an mp3