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National anthem

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National anthem

List of national anthems

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A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that is recognized, either by convention or formally by a country's government, as its official national song.

During the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with the rise of the national state, most countries adopted a national anthem, which in some cases coexists with other commonly sung patriotic songs. 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. It is unusual among national anthems in referring not to a country but to a national founder hero. More typically, anthems seek to reflect the unity of a nation by evoking and eulogizing the history, traditions and struggles of its people.

Anthems first rose to prominence in Europe in the nineteenth century, and the musical style of that time has been used in almost every national anthem. Even in African and Asian countries, where western orchestral music is foreign, the national anthem is usually in European style. Only a handful of non-European countries have anthems rooted in indigenous traditions, most notably Japan (whose lyrics are the oldest anthem lyrics in the world, Kimi Ga Yo), Costa Rica, Iran, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.

Some other countries have challenged the dominance of dated orchestral music. In Australia, for instance, the official anthem since 1984 has been "Advance Australia Fair", but there is much support for the folk ballad "Waltzing Matilda" as a national song, even a candidate for the national anthem.

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.

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. While the music to the German anthem was written by Joseph Haydn to the words "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" in honour of the Habsburg Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, it became later known after its new text as "Deutschland, Deutschland ber alles," written in 1841 by Hoffmann von Fallersleben after the empire's dismembering.

Among the very few countries with an anthem written by a world renowned composer are: Germany, which uses one by Joseph Haydn; 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. Few anthems have been praised for having lyrics of any great poetic merit, though the noted poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote the lyrics and music for both the Indian and the Bangladeshi national anthems.

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 sililar 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. In some countries gnerally, in other in certain schools, the national anthem is played to students each day at the start of school, as an exercise in patriotism like (and possibly combined with) a flag salute. In other countries the anthem is 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, 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 tecnically 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 tune of the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 is the official anthem of the European Union; the United Nations and the African Union also have unofficial anthems. In 2005, the British and Irish Lions rugby team, comprising players from Great Britain, Scotland, Wales and both the North and Republic of Ireland, used The Power of Four as their anthem.

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.