Thursday, May 21, 2009

The National Anthem of Greece

The National anthem of Greece, "Ymnos Eis Tin Eleftherian" (Ode to Freeedom), is based on the "Hymn to the Freedom", a large 158 verse poem written by Dionysios Solomos, a distinguished poet from Zakynthos Island. It was inspired by the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Ottoman Empire. During 1828, the eminent musician from Kerkyra Island Nikolaos Mantzaros composed the music for Solomos' hymn. Although King Othon (Otto) decorated both of them for their work (1845 and 1849), he did not replace the Royal Anthem of that time with the Solomos/Mantzaros hymn.

The anthem was a musical derivative from the German one, with a text glorifying Othon and his dynasty. After the overthrow of the dynasty, the new King George I and the Greek establishment decided to look for a clearly Greek work, both with respect to the poetry and the music. The "Hymn to the Freedom" was readily there - extremely popular since the Revolution times, often recited or sung during patriotic meetings and celebrations.

The Greek anthem is also used in Cyprus, which has a substantial Greek community.