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Music, Anthems & Anathema

Ludwig van Beethoven (December 17, 1770 – March 26, 1827) of Germany, one of the most admired composers in the history of Western Music, composed Für Elise (For Elise) on April 27, 1810. Interestingly, this popular composition of Beethoven was not published during his lifetime, as the manuscript was discovered by Ludwig Nohl four decades after his demise.

Watch: Lang Lang performs Beethoven’s Für Elise

Initially, music lovers thought that the great composer had dedicated this composition to Elisabeth Röckel. However, the original title of the composition is Für Therese, as per Beethoven’s first manuscript. Hence, the researchers have suggested that the composer dedicated his creation to Therese Malfatti, a lady to whom Beethoven proposed in 1810. While Beethoven was 40 at that time, Therese was only 19! Therese had turned down his proposal, but Beethoven went on to compose Für Elise the same year. Later, Therese became the owner of the original manuscript, and in this way, she also became immortal as Elise, in the sound of a solo piano.

Beethoven and Elisabeth Röckel

The Global Community can use the melody created by such a Philosopher-cum-Thinker-cum-Composer as a tool of consciousness for life, happiness, sorrow, and struggle. Beethoven was a devotee who still inspires society with his melody. His tune encourages youths to win the struggle for love. It may be noted that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (or the European Union) adopted the prelude to the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as its anthem in 1972, taking up a suggestion made by Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi way back in 1955. Beethoven was generally seen as the natural choice for a European Anthem. This part has recently been translated into Latin, French and Italian.

Therese von Droßdik Malfatti

Although the EU adopted Beethoven’s composition as its anthem, Germany did not adopt his composition as National Anthem. Before Adolf Hitler (April 20, 1889 – April 30, 1945) became the Chancellor in 1933, the National Anthem of Germany was ‘Das Lied der Deutschen‘ or ‘The Song of the Germans‘. While the Lyricist was August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Joseph Haydn composed the music in 1797. The third verse of Fallersleben’s poem is the National Anthem of present-day Germany. After the seizure of Power, the Nazis adopted only the first verse of the song as the National Anthem. At the same time, they gave Horst Wessel Lied (Horst Wessel Song), written and composed by young Nazi Officer Horst Ludwig Georg Erich Wessel (October 9, 1907 – February 23, 1930), the status of National Anthem, along with the first verse of the Deutschlandlied. In other words, Germany had two National Anthems during Hitler’s regime, and these two were collectively called the Songs of the Nation.

Horst Ludwig Georg Erich Wessel

These two National Anthems were abolished in Germany after the fall of Nazis in 1945. Even neighbouring Austria banned Horst Wessel Lied. The third verse of the song Das Lied der Deutschen became the National Anthem of erstwhile West Germany in 1952 and of the entire Germany after the unification of East and West Germany in 1990.

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