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Ode to Joy
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A page from Beethoven's original manuscript.
anthem of  European Union
European Union Council of Europe[1]
Also known as European Anthem[2][3]
Lyrics None
Music Ludwig van Beethoven, 1824
Adopted 1972 and 1985
Music sample
Ode to joy (Instrumental)

"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[2][3] due to the Council's intention that it represent 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".[4] 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.[5] 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[6]. The Council of European Ministers 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. The same tune was later adopted as the National Anthem of Rhodesia, in 1974.

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 crotchet = 120 whereas Beethoven had written minim = 80.

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 will not include any symbols.[8] A declaration was attached to the treaty where 16 states formally recognised the symbols.[9 ] In response, the European Parliament decided it would make greater use of the anthem, for example at official occasions.[8] In October 2008, 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, 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]

Unofficial lyrics

Friedrich Schiller wrote An die Freude which became the basis for Beethoven's composition. However in the European anthem the words were dropped due to multilingualism.

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 sung 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.[12] 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.[13] Versions of the anthem including lyrics have been sung outside official EU occasions. This is the case with the Latin version sung by the a cappella choir Wiener Singverein.[14]

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.

Original lyrics by Friedrich Schiller

German original
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.
English translation
Joy, beautiful sparkle of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium!
We enter, fire-drunk,
Heavenly one, your shrine.
Your magic again binds
What custom has firmly parted.
All men become brothers
Where your tender wing lingers.
Anonymous English Poetic Translation
Praise to Joy, the God-descended
Daughter of Elysium!
Ray of mirth and rapture blended,
Goddess, to thy shrine we come.
By thy magic is united
What stern Custom parted wide,
All mankind are brothers plighted
Where thy gentle wings abide.

Latin lyrics by Peter Roland

Latin original
Est Europa nunc unita
et unita maneat;
una in diversitate
pacem mundi augeat.

Semper regnant in Europa
fides et iustitia
et libertas populorum
in maiore patria.

Cives, floreat Europa,
opus magnum vocat vos.
Stellae signa sunt in caelo
aureae, quae iungant nos.
Rhymeless and literal English translation
Europe is united now
United may it remain;
Our unity in diversity
May it contribute to world peace.

May there forever reign in Europe
Faith and justice
And freedom of the people
In a greater homeland

Citizens, may Europe flourish,
A great task calls on you.
Golden stars in the sky are
The symbols that shall unite us.


  • Ode to Joy
    Electric keyboard version of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ode to Joy, the climactic part of his 9th Symphony
  • Problems listening to the files? See media help.

See also


  1. ^ On behalf of Europe as a whole
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ "Max Rudolf, a Musical Life: Writings and Letters". Pendragon Press. 2001. pp. pp 267–268.,M1. Retrieved 2008-07-10.  
  5. ^ "Correspondence of Schiller with Körner". Richard Bentley, London. 1849. p. 221. Retrieved 2008-07-09.  
  6. ^ Letter to Paul Levy, 3 August 1955
  7. ^ Emblemes Council of Europe
  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. Retrieved 2008-10-09.  
  11. ^ "Kosovo declares independence -". USA Today. 2008-02-17. Retrieved 2008-03-12.  
  12. ^ Hymnus Latinus Europae
  13. ^ European Commission, "Get your facts straight", February 2004
  14. ^ Peter Roland (2003-10-05). "CD-libellus". Est Europa Nunc Unita, Hymnus Latinus Europae. Retrieved 2008-04-08.  
  15. ^ Chants populaires pour les écoles, librairie Hachette, published in several editions between 1902 and 1911

External links


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