Anthem of Europe

"Anthem of Europe" is the organisational anthem used by the Council of Europe to represent Europe as a whole and the European Union.[1][2] It is based on "Ode to Joy" from the final movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony composed in 1823, and is played on official occasions by both organisations.

Ode to Joy
A page from Beethoven's original manuscript

Official anthem of
European Union

*Council of Europe
*(on behalf of Europe as a whole)

Also known asEuropean Union Anthem[1][2]
MusicLudwig van Beethoven, 1824
Adopted1972 and 1985
Audio sample
"Ode to Joy" (instrumental)
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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 anthem, taking up a suggestion made by Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi in 1955.[5] Beethoven was generally seen as the natural choice for a European anthem. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe officially announced the European Anthem on 19 January 1972 at Strasbourg: the prelude to "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 the unrecognized state 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.[6]

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.[7] A declaration was attached to the treaty, in which sixteen member states formally recognised the proposed symbols.[8] In response, the European Parliament decided that it would make greater use of the anthem, for example at official occasions.[7] 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.[9]


"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.[7]

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

The German public radio station Deutschlandfunk has broadcast the anthem together with the Deutschlandlied shortly before midnight since New Year's Eve 2006. The two anthems were specially recorded by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra in versions characterized by "modesty and intensity".[10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

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. It was similarly employed at the 2014 Ryder Cup prizegiving ceremony on 28 September, after Europe had beaten America under its captain, Paul McGinley. It was also played at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Ryder Cup, right after the anthem of the USA.

"Ode to Joy", automatically orchestrated in seven different styles, has been used on 18 June 2015 during the ceremony celebrating the 5000th ERC grantee as anthem of the European Research Council to represent achievements of European research.[13]

"Ode to Joy" is used as the theme song to the 2016 UEFA Euro qualifying and the European qualifying of the 2018 FIFA World Cup football competition at the introduction of every match.[14]

In 2017, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from the Scottish National Party first whistled and then sang "Ode to Joy" during a vote at the House of Commons to protest against Brexit.[15]

See also


  1. "The European Anthem".
  2. "Europa – The EU at a glance – The European Anthem". Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  3. Max Rudolf; Michael Stern; Hanny Bleeker White (2001). A Musical Life: Writings and Letters. Pendragon Press. pp. 267–268. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  4. Schiller and Körner (1849). Correspondence of Schiller with Körner. Translated by Leonard Simpson. London: Richard Bentley. p. 221. Retrieved 9 July 2008.
  5. Letter to Paul Levy, 3 August 1955 Archived 2 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Emblems, Council of Europe web site
  7. Beunderman, Mark (11 July 2007). "MEPs defy member states on EU symbols". EUobserver. Retrieved 12 July 2007.
  8. "Official Journal of the European Union, 2007 C 306–2, p. 267".
  9. Kubosova, Lucia (9 October 2008). "No prolonged mandate for Barroso, MEPs warn". EUobserver. Archived from the original on 10 October 2008. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  10. Matthias Sträßner. "Wer D singt, muss auch E singen" (in German). Deutschlandfunk. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  11. Signing ceremony of the Treaty of Lisbon (Full) 1/6 on YouTube
  12. "Kosovo declares independence". USA Today. 17 February 2008. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  13. Machine Learning Techniques for Reorchestrating the European Anthem on YouTube
  14. European Qualifiers Intro – UEFA EURO 2016 on YouTube
  15. "The SNP staged a musical protest as MPs voted on whether to trigger Article 50". 8 February 2017.
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