Friday, May 22, 2009

The National Anthem of Mexico

After independence from Spain in the early nineteenth century, there were many songs popular with the public that were an attempt to be a national anthem, but none succeeded. Finally, in 1853, President Santa Ana announced a nation-wide contest for the lyrics for a new national anthem. One of the entrants, an accomplished poet named Francicso González Bocanegra, was originally not interested in running. However, his fiancée was confident in his skills and, under false pretenses, lured him into a room of her parent's house and locked him inside, refusing to let him out until he wrote an entry for the contest. After four hours, using the pictures in the room of the epics of Mexican history as his inspiration, Bocanegra finally won his freedom by slipping a ten verse poem under the door. (Only the first, fifth, sixth, and tenth verses officially make up the anthem.) His fiancée and her father approved of the submission, and so did the judging committee, his entry won unanimously.

After the contest for the lyrics came the contest for the melody. This contest was won by Jaime Nunó Roca, a Spaniard from the small Catalan Pyrennes town of Sant Joan de les Abadesses, who was conductor of the National Band. The anthem was first presented in September 1854 for the nation. Shortly after his work was adopted as the national anthem, he left Mexico to spend the rest of his life in Buffalo, New York, United States, and sold the anthem to a music house in that country. When he visited Mexico in 1901, he was given a state reception, a medal, and money. He passed away in 1908, but in 1942, shortly before the national anthem was officially adopted, his remains were flown to Mexico and given a state funeral in the Hall of Heroes, where Bocanegra was also buried.