Monday, February 7, 2011

The Anthem of Europe on a Special Cancel

"Ode to Joy" (German original title: "Ode an die Freude") is the anthem of the European Union and the Council of Europe; both of which refer to it as the European Anthem due to the Council's intention that it represent Europe as a whole, rather than any organization. It is based on the final movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony composed in 1823, and is played on official occasions by both organizations. The anthem is adapted from the final movement of Ludwig von Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", from his Ninth Symphony, The official arrangement was done by Herbert von Karajan. While Beethoven's work has German words by Friedrich Schiller, as the European anthem no lyrics are used officially, rather the anthem is in the "international language of music."

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.

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.

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.

On 4 October 2010 the anthem was used for the first time at a major sporting event 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. As a result the European anthem was broadcast around the world at a major sporting event for the first time.

The envelope above shows the Hymn of the European Union on a special cancel issued in Germany in 1999.