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These Songs Are Your Songs: A July Fourth Playlist

Supporters of the United States men's national soccer team sing the national anthem before a Copa América match against Paraguay in Philadelphia June 11. Nicholas Kamm /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Nicholas Kamm /AFP/Getty Images

For this most American of holidays, how do we define our music? What makes it uniquely American?

In 1929 George Gershwin wrote that it's "something deeply rooted in our soil." Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop said, "It's highly energized, rhythmic music derived from the blurring of lines between popular and serious styles."

I think you can hear all of that, and much more, in this five-hour playlist of American tunes selected from a wide swath of mainly classical sources. We celebrate Scott Joplin's ragtime opera Treemonisha and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, but also contemporary works like David Lang's The National Anthems, Joan Tower's Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman and music from the new album by ETHEL with Native American composer Robert Mirabal. There's also room for Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Elaine Stritch — and a non-American piece that's become an Independence Day staple, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

In other words, a little something for everyone. Happy Fourth!