Saturday, July 17, 2010

The National Anthem of El Salvador

One of the longest national anthems in existence, the Salvadoran anthem is a typical example of a "Latin American epic anthem". It was adopted as the National Song on September 15, 1879 but did not have official recognition until December 11, 1953.

The Official National Anthem was composed by an Italian composer Juan Aberle who arrived in the country at the end of the 18th Century as the Director of an Opera Company. The lyrics were written by General Juan José Cañas, an inspired poet and distinguished military that took arms with the National Army against filibusters, around the year 1856. It was composed by recommendation of President Dr. Rafael Zaldívar and was sung for the first time on September 15, 1879 at the prior National Palace by children and young students from government and private schools of the capital city, and the anthem was very well recieved after that initial performance.

Juan Aberle was Italian by birth but made of El Salvador his second country when he married a native of the city of Ahuachapan. He was born in Naples, Italy, on December 11, 1846.

Impelled by his devotion to music, he applied to the Naples Conservatory at age 11 against his parents' will. There he gained a sound knowledge of music. He later traveled to New York City where he was Opera Director for five years.

After that he decided to go on an artistic tour to the Latin American countries. During his stay in the city of Guatemala, capital city of the Republic of Guatemala, he founded the Music Conservatory in 1879. He then came to El Salvador and established the School of Music.

Because of his merits, the government named him Director of the Highest Power Band substituting the German, Carlos Malhamann, who left for World War I. He gave up this position in 1922 due to old age. He died on February 28, 1930.

His favorite instrument was the piano. He composed a great deal of chamber music and transposed opera fragments for the piano. His march "Morazan" was declared a national march on May 1, 1882. He wrote two operas, one of which was "Ivanhoe." He also wrote "Treaty of Harmony, Counterpoint and Fugue".

Additionally, it is important to know that the authors received no stipend or reward from the government for their work. It wasn’t until 23 years later in 1902, when General Tomas Regalado was President of the Republic, that the Legislative Congress agreed to grant each one of them a gold medal, which was bestowed to them by the Head of the Nation in a feeling of national gratitude.

The first day cover above issued on September 14, 1979, the Centenary of the National Anthem features both the lyricist and composer.