Thursday, July 29, 2010

The National Anthem of Cyprus

Cyprus is a bi-national community of Greeks and Turks, where Greeks are the majority and the ruling government. When Cyprus was declared independent from Great Britian in 1960, other national symbols such as the flag were enshrined in the new nation's constitution, but there was no mention of an anthem. Much debates ensued, and neither community could agree on a national anthem; during foreign state visits, different instrumental marches were used. In the early 1970s, it was decided that the Greek anthem would be used by Cyprus as well. (The Turkish community does not recognize this and instead uses the Turkish anthem for their self-proclaimed nation.)

In 2004, as a requirement of joining the European Union, a peace plan was proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, which included different national symbols, to make them more inclusive of both communities. This also included a wordless anthem that was agreed to by both Turkish and Greek members of the national symbols committee. However, the plan was rejected by the voters and "Ode to Freedom" remains the Cypriot national anthem.

The Hymn to Liberty is a poem written by Dionýsios Solomós in 1823 that consists of 158 stanzas and is the longest national anthem in the world, set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros. In 1865, the first two stanzas officially became the national anthem of Greece and later also that of the Republic of Cyprus. According to the Constitution of Cyprus, the Greek national anthem is used in the presence of the Greek Cypriot president (or other Greek Cypriot), and the Turkish national anthem is used in the presence of the Turkish Cypriot vice-president. Cyprus stopped using the Turkish national anthem, however, when Turkish Cypriots broke away from the Government in 1963. Hymn to Liberty was also the Greek Royal Anthem (since 1864).

The hymn was set to music in 1865 by the Corfiot operatic composer Nikolaos Mantzaros, who composed two choral versions, a long one for the whole poem and a short one for the first two stanzas; the latter is the one adopted as the National Anthem of Greece. This anthem has been performed at every closing ceremony of an Olympics, to pay tribute to Greece as the birthplace of the modern Games.

The postcard above features the score of the national anthem of Greece and Cyprus.