The Voice of Nations: European National Anthems and Their Authors

The Voice of Nations: European National Anthems and Their Authors

The Voice of Nations: European National Anthems and Their Authors

The Voice of Nations: European National Anthems and Their Authors

Synopsis

This first in-depth study of European national anthems analyzes their evolution as indicative of the culture, characteristics, and histories of the 15 different nations. Beyond these specific features, The Voice of Nations explores common themes such as the quest for liberty, independence, patriotism, national resurrection, and self-determination. The book also probes the reasons why these anthems are still in use and addresses their relevance in the era of European integration. Professor Eyck, a European-born historian, uses primary sources hitherto unavailable in this country and examines those anthems that were created spontaneously, rather than commissioned by rulers. Anthems included belong to countries that enjoyed sovereignty for either centuries or decades before 1914. Each chapter outlines the country's situation when the poem, destined to anthem status, was created; summarizes the life and work of the author; shows how and when the poem was set to music, and why it evolved into the songthat became a symbol of a particular state and its people. Students, teachers, public and research libraries, and all interested in European music, history, literature, and national culture will find this gracefully written study a fascinating one.

Excerpt

(Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle)

Among the national anthems of the world, none has attained such widespread renown, triggered such vibrant emotions, become the model for such a variety of other anthems as the Marseillaise. Its pulsating tune and fiery verses have stirred up deep passions in more than two centuries and served as a clarion call for those many who have struggled defiantly, if at times unsuccessfully, for liberty and progress. Created at a crucial juncture of occidental history when national self-determination, a new phenomenon since the American Revolution, was challenged by foreign intervention, the French anthem breathed nationalist assertiveness, defiance, and pride.

But since the mid-nineteenth century, the Marseillaise has also been used to express the yearning for social justice. As such, it became the rallying song of the underprivileged and revolutionaries throughout the world. Arguably the most nationalist of all European anthems, the Marseillaise thus acquired an international dimension. This dual function of articulating both national and international proclivities has marked the evolution of the French anthem as it was pulled left or right by conflicting political movements. Dichotomy has been the hallmark not only of the Marseillaise but also of the fate of its creator. He had cast his best-known song in the crucible of a revolutionary nationalism while holding traditionalist and royalist views.

Yet he had welcomed the epochal early measures of the French Revolution: the establishment of a national legislature, the storming of the Bastille, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, the abolition of feudalism, and . . .

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