This is the anthem not only of the European Union but also of Europe in a wider sense. The melody comes from the Ninth Symphony composed in 1823 by Ludwig Van Beethoven.
For the final movement of this symphony, Beethoven set to music the "Ode to Joy" written in 1785 by Friedrich von Schiller. This poem expresses Schiller's idealistic vision of the human race becoming brothers - a vision Beethoven shared.
In 1972, the Council of Europe (the same body that designed the European flag) adopted Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" theme as its own anthem. The well-known conductor Herbert Von Karajan was asked to write three instrumental arrangements - for solo piano, for wind instruments and for symphony orchestra. Without words, in the universal language of music, this anthem expresses the ideals of freedom, peace and solidarity for which Europe stands.
In 1985, it was adopted by EU heads of State and government as the official anthem of the European Union. It is not intended to replace the national anthems of the Member States but rather to celebrate the values they all share and their unity in diversity.
Hear the European Anthem. The performance you can hear by clicking here is by the European Union Youth Wind Orchestra conducted by André Reichling. It was recorded in 1994 at the Teatro da Trindade, Lisbon. Musical arrangement: Herbert von Karajan.
The European Commission thanks everyone involved in making this recording. All rights of the producer and owner of the work reproduced reserved.
Source: Gateway to the European Union