Of all the national hymns of the world, the Siamese national hymn known as “Sanrasoen Phra Barami” is one of the most effective and impressive pieces of music. It is used for the reception of Their Majesties the King and the Queen.
On listening to it when played by a full military band just outside the throne hall of the Amarind palace in the days gone by, while a state ceremony was in progress, one could never fail to be deeply moved by the strains of this anthem, in the atmosphere of serene solemnity, with His Majesty the King seated on the throne, members of the royal family and government officials in full dress, paying homage to him. It was then an anniversary of his birthday.
On examining the melody of the anthem, it will be seen that it is composed of several simple and detached phrases, strung together like a garland dotted with flowers, but its real charm lies, in a great extent to the harmonies sustaining it, making it an artistic production.
Who was then the composer of this anthem? This question has been asked by foreigners and the Siamese alike, and there has always been frequent controversy as to the real name of its author. The majority of our own people believed it to be of Siamese origin, being composed by an unknown Siamese musical expert in the good old days who made it up out of the fanfare flourish which is usually played from trumpets (so-called European Brass instrument) during state ceremonies and later harmonized by a European bandmaster who then made arrangement for performance by a military band during the early part of the reign of King Chulalongkorn (King Rama the Fifth), but from the sound and the notation taken of this flourish, one finds only little connection with the main theme of the anthem, although it resembles it somehow.
In order to come to the point as to the original author of the anthem, H.R.H. Prince Naris – A royal half-brother of H.M. King Chulalongkorn and a keen– had been approached by the Royal Institute in the year 2478 (A.D. 1935). His Royal Highness had kindly made a thorough research and had stated as follows:-
Regarding the nation anthem or The Sanrasoen Phra Barami. It was stated that His Majesty King Chulalongkorn, on his first royal visit to India in the year 2414 (A.D. 1871) when arriving at Singapore, came to know that all nations had possessed an appropriate national hymn of their own, but our nation was yet without one, so he wished that our nation should also possess one. This royal wish was made known to a European bandmaster in Singapore, who then made several compositions in the European style with European wordings and offered them to His Majesty. It is not known whether this bandmaster composed the music himself or obtained the music from some other sources and his name is also unknown. His Majesty the King then made a choice of the different compositions offered him and bought one, which he then commanded to apply Siamese wordings to the melody; these wordings have later been corrected and altered several times until the sixth reign when His Majesty King Vajiravudh made the last alteration which remained in use up to now.
During a conference of the committees of Siamese musical experts in charge of taking musical notations of Siamese national music in the palace of H.R.H. Prince Damrong about 35 years ago, the writer who was present, then acting as President of the committee, remembered that H.R.H. Prince Damrong mentioned the name of this composer as Hoodson or Hudson.