Anthem of Europe

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Ode to Joy
Ninth Symphony original.png
A page from Beethoven's original manuscript.

anthem of
 European Union
Council of Europe (On behalf of Europe as a whole)

Also known asEuropean Anthem[1][2]
MusicLudwig van Beethoven, 1824
Adopted1972 and 1985
Music sample
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Ode to Joy
Ninth Symphony original.png
A page from Beethoven's original manuscript.

anthem of
 European Union
Council of Europe (On behalf of Europe as a whole)

Also known asEuropean Anthem[1][2]
MusicLudwig van Beethoven, 1824
Adopted1972 and 1985
Music sample

"Ode to Joy" (German original title: "Ode an die Freude") is the anthem of the European Union and the Council of Europe; both of which refer to it as the European Anthem[1][2] due to the Council's intention that it represents Europe as a whole, rather than any organisation. It is based on the final movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony composed in 1823, and is played on official occasions by both organisations.




Friedrich Schiller wrote the poem An die Freude (To Joy) in 1785 as a "celebration of the brotherhood of man".[3] In later life, the poet was contemptuous of this popularity and dismissed the poem as typical of "the bad taste of the age" in which it had been written.[4] After Schiller's death, the poem provided the words for the choral movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th Symphony.


In 1971 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided to propose adopting the prelude to the Ode To Joy from Beethoven's 9th Symphony as the European anthem, taking up a suggestion made by Count Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi in 1955.[5] Beethoven, "the spearhead of early Romanticism's universalist pretentions", was generally seen as the natural choice for a European anthem.[6] The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe officially announced the European Anthem on 19 January 1972 at Strasbourg: the prelude to "The Ode to Joy", 4th movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th symphony. In 1974 the same piece of music was adopted as the National Anthem of Rhodesia.

Conductor Herbert von Karajan was asked to write three instrumental arrangements – for solo piano, for wind instruments and for symphony orchestra and he conducted the performance used to make the official recording. He wrote his decisions on the score, notably those concerning the tempo. Karajan decided on minim (half note) = 80 whereas Beethoven had written crotchet (quarter note) = 120.

The anthem was launched via a major information campaign on Europe Day in 1972. In 1985, it was adopted by EU heads of State and government as the official anthem of the then European Community – since 1993 the European Union. It is not intended to replace the national anthems of the Member States but rather to celebrate the values they all share and their unity in diversity. It expresses the ideals of a united Europe: freedom, peace, and solidarity.[7]

Recent events

It was to have been included in the European Constitution along with the other European symbols; however, the treaty failed ratification and was replaced by the Treaty of Lisbon, which does not include any symbols.[8] A declaration was attached to the treaty, in which sixteen member states formally recognised the proposed symbols.[9] In response, the European Parliament decided that it would make greater use of the anthem, for example at official occasions.[8] In October 2008, the Parliament changed its rules of procedure to have the anthem played at the opening of Parliament after elections and at formal sittings.[10]


Ode to Joy is the anthem of the Council of Europe and the European Union, promoted as a symbol for the whole of Europe as are the other European symbols. It is used on occasions such as Europe Day and formal events such as the signing of treaties. The European Parliament seeks to make greater use of the music, then-Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering stated he was moved when the anthem was played for him on his visit to Israel and ought to be used in Europe more often.[8]

In 2008 it was used by Kosovo as its national anthem until it adopted its own, and it was played at its declaration of independence, as a nod to the EU's role in its independence from Serbia.[11]

At the 2007 signing ceremony for the Treaty of Lisbon, the plenipotentiaries of the European Union's twenty-seven Member States stood in attendance while the Ode to Joy was played and a choir of 26 Portuguese children sang the original German lyrics.[12]

In 1992 the anthem was used by CIS national football team at the 1992 UEFA European Football Championship.

On 4 October 2010 the anthem was used when a European team beat a team representing the United States of America to win the Ryder Cup golf tournament. The European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie decided to break with tradition and play the European anthem by itself instead of the individual anthems from participating European nations.

Unofficial lyrics

Friedrich Schiller wrote An die Freude which became the basis for Beethoven's composition. However in the European anthem the German words were dropped so as not to elevate one language over another.

Due to the large number of languages used in the European Union, the anthem is purely instrumental, and the German lyrics Friedrich Schiller wrote and Beethoven based the melody upon have no official status. Despite this, the German lyrics are often sung by choirs or ordinary people when the anthem is played: for example, at the 2004 enlargement on the German-Polish border, the crowd watching the ceremony playing the music sang along with the German lyrics.

Aside from this, several translations of the poem used by Beethoven as well as original works have attempted to provide lyrics to the anthem in various languages. Recently, Latin, as a former lingua franca in many European countries, is the language of one proposal written by the Austrian composer Peter Roland.[13] The composer offered a copy of the anthem to Romano Prodi, then President of the European Commission during a meeting in Vienna in February 2004.[14] Versions of the anthem including lyrics have been sung outside official EU occasions.

In France, several adaptations of Beethoven's Ode were known long before the onset of European Union. A version by the librettist Maurice Bouchor (1855–1929) entitled Hymn to the Universal Humanity (Hymne à l'universelle humanité) adding several verses to a preceding version of Jean Ruault, was published. This version and another by Maurice Bouchor, published with Julien Thiersot under the title Hymn for future times (Hymne des temps futurs) in a music book which was widespread among basic schools,[15] is performed unofficially by school choirs during European events. Another version by the Catholic writer Joseph Folliet (1903–1972) is also known.

Ode to Joy lyrics

An die Freude
German lyrics by Friedrich Schiller

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium!
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, Dein Heiligtum.

Deine Zauber binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng geteilt,
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo Dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Emblemes". Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  2. ^ a b "EUROPA - The EU at a glance - The European Anthem". Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  3. ^ Max Rudolf the Dog, a Musical Life: Writings and Letters. Pendragon Press. 2001. pp. 267–268.,M1. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  4. ^ Correspondence of Schiller with Körner. Richard Bentley, London. 1849. p. 221. Retrieved 2008-07-09. 
  5. ^ Letter to Paul Levy, 3 August 1955[dead link]
  6. ^ Cosmopolitburo » Blog Archive » Barbarie: Revue des civilisations et actualités européennes (janvier 2011) p. 11
  7. ^ Emblems, Council of Europe web site
  8. ^ a b c Beunderman, Mark (2007-07-11). "MEPs defy member states on EU symbols". EU Observer. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  9. ^ Official Journal of the European Union, 2007 C 306-2, p. 267
  10. ^ Kubosova, Lucia (9 October 2008). "No prolonged mandate for Barroso, MEPs warn". EU Observer. Archived from the original on 10 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  11. ^ "Kosovo declares independence -". USA Today. 2008-02-17. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  12. ^ Signing Ceremony of the Treaty of Lisnon - Part 1 on
  13. ^ Hymnus Latinus Europae
  14. ^ European Commission, "Get your facts straight", February 2004
  15. ^ Chants populaires pour les écoles, librairie Hachette, published in several editions between 1902 and 1911

External links