National anthem

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See also List of national anthems. For the Radiohead song, see "The National Anthem".

A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that is evoking and eulogizing the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.


[edit] Background

Anthems rose to prominence in Europe during the nineteenth century; the oldest song purporting to be a national anthem is the "Wilhelmus" from the Netherlands, written between 1568 and 1572 during the Eighty Years' War. Spain's national anthem, the "Marcha Real" (The Royal March), dates from 1770. God Save the Queen, the national anthem of the United Kingdom, first performed in 1745 under the title "God Save the King", while younger than "Wilhelmus", is nonetheless considered to be the first song used as a national anthem. During the rise of the national state in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, most remaining nations adopted an anthem upon attaining nationhood. Because of European colonial influence, many were influenced in a similar way to adopt a national anthem, and thus several anthems outside Europe are in the European style. Only a handful of non-European countries have anthems rooted in indigenous traditions, including China, Japan, Costa Rica, Iran, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.

[edit] Types of anthem

An anthem can become a country's national anthem by a provision in the country's constitution (such as in France), by a law enacted by its legislature (as in the United States), or simply by tradition (as is the case in the United Kingdom).

The majority of national anthems are either marches or hymns in style. The countries of Latin America tend towards more operatic pieces, while a handful of countries use a simple fanfare. Anthems by their nature have to be brief (the average is about one minute in length), yet many, if not most, manage to make them musically significant, and a true representation of the nation's musical character.

National anthems are traditionally either in the de facto language of the country or (one of) the official language(s). Pakistan's anthem, however, is not in Urdu or English (its main languages) but in Persian. India's anthem is a highly Sanskritized version of Bengali. South Africa's national anthem is unique in that five of the eleven official languages are used in the same anthem (each language comprising a stanza).

[edit] Composers

Few anthems have been written by notable composers. The French anthem "La Marseillaise" was written by the otherwise unknown Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle; the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was taken from "To Anacreon in Heaven" by the otherwise unknown Englishman John Stafford Smith; and "God Save the Queen" was written by a composer whose identity is not known with any certainty. In the 19th century, its melody was adopted as the national anthem by more than twenty countries, including German Kaiserreich (1871 - 1918) "Heil dir im Siegerkranz", and is still used in the Principality of Liechtenstein.

Among the very few countries with an anthem written by a world renowned composer are: Germany, which uses a melody written by Joseph Haydn and words by Hoffmann von Fallersleben; the Austrian national anthem which was possibly written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (though there is not a lot of evidence); the Vatican City, whose anthem was written by Charles Gounod; and Newfoundland (since 1949 no longer a separate state but a province of federal Canada) whose national anthem was by Sir Hubert Parry.

[edit] Lyrics

Few anthems have been praised for having lyrics of any great poetic merit. India and Bangladesh adopted two songs written by the Nobel prize winner and noted poet/author Rabindranath Tagore as their national anthems, Jana Gana Mana and Amar Shonar Bangla, respectively (India has declared Vande Mataram, the song of its freedom struggle, as its National Song). Nobel prize winner Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson wrote the lyrics for the Norwegian national anthem. Singapore's anthem was chosen during an inter-citizen competition in the 1950s.

Some national anthems have no official lyrics at all, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Spain, and San Marino. (The European anthem also lacks official words, but several unofficial words have been written, as well as the lyrics of Ode to Joy have been unofficially used.)

[edit] Usage

Image:LakeGenevaRaceway FinalNationalAnthem.jpg
At the commencement of sporting events, such as this United States stock car race, spectators customarily stand and salute the national flag for the duration of the national anthem.

National anthems are used in a wide array of contexts. They are played on national holidays and festivals, and have also come to be closely connected with sporting events. At the Olympic Games and similar official international competitions the national anthem of the gold medal winner is played at each medal ceremony. National anthems are also played before games in many sports leagues. The use of a national anthem outside of its country, however, is dependent on the international recognition of that country. Thus, countries such as Taiwan which is not recognized by the Olympics as a separate nation but must compete as Chinese Taipei, its National Banner Song is used instead of its national anthem.

In some countries, the national anthem is played to students each day at the start of school, as an exercise in patriotism, similar to (and possibly combined with) a flag salute. In other countries the anthem may be played in a theatre before a play or in a cinema before a movie. Many radio and television stations have adopted this and play the national anthem when they sign on in the morning and again when they sign off at night. On most occasions, only one stanza of the anthem is played (usually the first, although Germany uses the third).

Many states also have unofficial anthems, e.g., "Sare Jahanse Achcha" in India, and nations in the cultural sense or other subnational units may also have royal anthems, presidential anthems, state anthems, or anthems for sub-national entities that are also officially recognized, notably as constitutive parts of (con)federal states, and may then technically be better described by an adjective referring to the legal status, e.g. regional anthem in the case of the regions of Belgium.

Larger entities also sometimes have anthems. There are a handful of multinational or international anthems. The Internationale was the anthem of the socialist movement and then of the world communist movement - and so also adopted by the Comintern and its successor Cominform. The tune of the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 is the European anthem; the United Nations and the African Union also have unofficial anthems.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

ar:نشيد وطني

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National anthem

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