Facts About National Anthems

Word definition ANTHEMATOLOGY/ANTHEMATOLOGIST - the study and collection of information about anthems - the word was invented by David Kendall in Canada in 2003.

'God Save The King' was played non-stop 16 or 17 times by a German military band on the platform of Rathenau railway station, Brandenburg, Germany on the morning of February 9 1909. The reason was that King Edward VII was struggling inside the train with the uniform of a German Field-Marshall before he could emerge!

The music blared at a soccer match in Athens between a Chinese and a Greek side, and the crowd rose and stood in respectful silence. They assumed it was the Chinese National Anthem. The Chinese players also stood to attention, thinking it was the Greek National Anthem. Then a voice sang out: "IT WAS A TOOTHPASTE COMMERCIAL!"

Spain demanded an apology after the wrong Spanish National Anthem was played before a Davis Cup Tennis Match in Australia in 2003. The pre-Civil War Republican National Anthem was played for the Spanish team!

Oldest National Anthems:
JAPAN - oldest words - dating from the 9th Century
THE NETHERLANDS - oldest music - melody known before 1572

Shortest National Anthem:
UGANDA - 8 bars of music

Longest National Anthems:
GREECE - lyrics - has a total of 158 verses!
URUGUAY - music - 105 bars of music

Shortest lived National Anthem:
SOMALILAND - 5 days only - June 26 1960 to July 01 1960

The only nation without a National Anthem of her own:
CYPRUS - uses the National Anthem of Greece and the National Anthem of Turkey

Nations that share the same tune for their National Anthem:
POLAND - Former YUGOSLAVIA (The music of the two National Anthems are slightly different)
TANZANIA - ZAMBIA (The two National Anthems have the same origin, but there are slight differences)

Oldest confirmed living composer of a National Anthem:
Xiao He (born 1918) - GUINEA-BISSAU

Oldest confirmed living author of a National Anthem:
Mathieu Ekra (born 1917) - IVORY COAST

Oldest State Song of the United States of America:
SOUTH CAROLINA - adopted February 11 1911

Oldest confirmed living composer of a State Song of the United States America:
Joseph Rocco Mascari (born 1922) - NEW JERSEY

Oldest confirmed living author of a State Song of the United States of America: 
Joseph Rocco Mascari (born 1922) - NEW JERSEY

Classic composers of National Anthems:

AUSTRIA Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) - but this is disputed
BANGLADESH Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
GERMANY Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
INDIA Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
NORWAY Rikard Nordraak (1842-1866)
SINGAPORE Zubir Said (1907-1987)
VATICAN CITY STATE Charles-François Gounod (1818-1893)

Statesmen who wrote the words for their own National Anthem:

BELGIUM Charles Latour Rogier (1800-1885) Prime Minister of Belgium (1832-1834) (1847-1852)(1857-1868)
COLOMBIA Rafael Nuñez (1825-1894) President of Colombia
(1880-1882) (1884-1888) (1892-1894)
ECUADOR Juan León Mera (1832-1894) President of Senate of Ecuador
EL SALVADOR Juan José Cañas (1826-1918) Minister of Foreign Affairs
IVORY COAST Mathieu Ekra (b.1917)
and Joachim Bony (b.1927)
Minister of Information
Minister of Education
JAMAICA Robert Charles Lightbourne (1909-1995) Minister of Trade and Industry (1962-1972)
JORDAN Abdul-Mone'm al-Rifai' (1917-1985) Prime Minister of Jordan (1969) & (1970)
LIBERIA Daniel Bashiel Warner (1815-1880) President of Liberia (1864-1868)
MALAYSIA Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903-1990) Prime Minister of Malaysia (1957-1970)
SÉNÉGAL Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001) President of Sénégal (1960-1980)
TAIWAN Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925) President of China (1923-1925)

Foreign composers who wrote the music for a National Anthem:

ALBANIA Ciprian Porumbescu (1853-1883) Romanian
ARMENIA Barsegh Kanachyan (1885-1967) Turkish
BANGLADESH Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Indian
BOLIVIA Leopoldo Benedetto Vincenti (1815-1914) Italian
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC Herbert Pepper (1912-2001) French
CHILE Ramón Carnicer (1789-1855) Spanish
COLOMBIA Oreste Sindici (1837-1904) Italian
CYPRUS Nikolaos Mantzaros (1795-1873) Greek
ECUADOR Antonio Neumane (1818-1871) German
EL SALVADOR Juan Aberle (1846-1930) German
ESTONIA Friedrich Pacius (1809-1891) Finnish
GERMANY Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) Austrian
GUINEA-BISSAU Xiao He (b.1918) Chinese
HONDURAS Carlos Hartling (1869-1920) German
IRAQ Mohammad Salim Flayfel (1899-1986)
and Ahmad Salim Flayfel (1906-1991)
MALAYSIA Pierre Jean de Beranger (1780-1857) French
THE MALDIVES Wannakuwattawaduge Don Amaradeva (b.1927) Sri Lankan
MAURITANIA Tolia Nikiprowetzky (1916-1997) Polish
MEXICO Jaime Nuno (1824-1908) Spanish
NAURU Laurence Henry Hicks (1912-1997) Australian
NEPAL Amber Gurung (dates unknown) Indian
NEW ZEALAND John Joseph Woods (1849-1934) Australian
NICARAGUA Luis Abraham Delgadillo (1887-1961) Italian
PALESTINE Ali Ismael (1922-1974) Egyptian
PANAMA Santos Jorgea (1870-1941) Spanish
PAPUA NEW GUINEA Thomas Shacklady (1917-2006) British
PORTUGAL Alfredo Keil (1850-1907) German
SAN MARINO Federico Consolo (1841-1906) Italian
SAUDI ARABIA Abdul Rahman Al-Khateeb (b.1923) Egyptian
SÉNÉGAL Herbert Pepper (1912-2001) French
SERBIA Davorin Jenko (1835-1914) Slovenian
SOLOMON ISLANDS Panapasa Balekana (1929-2009) Fijian
SOMALIA Giuseppe Blanc (1886-1969) Italian
SWAZILAND David Kenneth Rycroft (1924-1997) British
SYRIA Mohammad Salim Flayfel (1899-1986)
and Ahmad Salim Flayfel (1906-1991)
TAJIKISTAN Suleiman Yudakov (1916-1990) Uzbek
TANZANIA Enoch Mankayi Sontonga (1860-1904) South African
TONGA Karl Gustavus Schmitt (1834-1900) German
TUNISIA Mohamad Abdel Wahab (1915-1991) Egyptian
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Mohamad Abdel Wahab (1915-1991) Egyptian
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA John Stafford Smith (c.1750-1836) British
URUGUAY Francisco José Debali (1791-1859) Hungarian
VATICAN CITY STATE Charles-François Gounod (1818-1893) French
ZAMBIA Enoch Mankayi Sontonga (1860-1904) South African


The United Nations Hymn

Though many songs have been written about the United Nations or on related themes, there is no official anthem or hymn for the Organization. One such song, or hymn, was written and performed at the United Nations on 24 October 1971 by maestro Pablo Casals (1876-1973) of Spain. The occasion was the 25th anniversary of the United Nations. The words were written by poet Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) of the United Kingdom.

The two, though they had never met, were brought together in this unusual collaboration by U Thant who was then United Nations Secretary-General. For centuries, poets and musicians have sung in praise of war and celebrated victories in battles. U Thant was intrigued by the fact that there existed no hymn to peace. Pablo Casals was a personal friend of his, and when approached by U Thant, he readily agreed to write the music. As the Secretary-General explained, the song was to be based on the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations. Although it would not be formally adopted as the official anthem of the United Nations, U Thant hoped it would be performed on appropriate occasions.

While Casals greatly liked the ideas contained in the preamble, there was no way he could put music to such a document. The task to write an appropriate poem, based on the theme of peace and ideals enshrined in the preamble, fell on W. H. Auden, then regarded as the greatest living English poet. When a representative of the Secretary-General approached the poet, he immediately agreed to write the poem. In three days' time, Auden finished writing, A Hymn to the UN, which was then set to music by Casals.

On 24 October 1971, the Orchestra of the Festival Casals, with the Maestro himself as conductor, presented the hymn in a première.