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How Do You Make a National Anthem?

Tom Service on the music, meaning and occasional madness of the world's national anthems. How are they chosen, what are they for and is the music any good? With Alex Marshall.

Tom Service on the music, meaning and occasional madness of the world's national anthems. How are they chosen, what are they for, and is the music any good?

He's joined by writer Alex Marshall, author of the book "Republic or Death, Travels in Search of National Anthems",and by soprano Elin Manahan Thomas who looks at why some of them are easier to sing than others...

Rethink Music, with The Listening Service.

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.

Available now

29 minutes

Music Played

  • Unknown

    God Save the Queen

    Performer: Band of HM Coldstream Guards. Music Arranger: Gordon Jacob.
    • The Pride of the Nation.
    • Decca.
  • Francisco José Deballi

    National Anthem of Uruguay (arr Peter Breiner)

    Performer: Symfonický orchester Slovenského rozhlasu. Performer: Peter Breiner.
    • National Anthems Edition 3 [Peter Breiner].
    • Marco Polo.
  • Samuel Cohen

    National Anthem of Israel - Hatikvah (arr Peter Breiner)

    Performer: Symfonický orchester Slovenského rozhlasu. Performer: Peter Breiner.
    • National Anthems Edition 3 [Peter Breiner].
    • Marco Polo.
  • Trad.

    National Anthem of Mauritania (arr Peter Breiner)

    Performer: Symfonický orchester Slovenského rozhlasu. Performer: Peter Breiner.
    • National Anthems Edition 3 [Peter Breiner].
    • Marco Polo.
  • Claude‐Joseph Rouget de l’Isle

    La Marseillaise, arr. for double chorus and orchestra, arr Berlioz

    Performer: Marcel Vanaud. Performer: Toulouse Capitole Choir and Orchestra. Performer: Michel Plasson.
    • EMI.
  • Antonio Neumane

    National Anthem of Ecuador - Salve, Oh Patria! (arr Peter Breiner)

    Performer: Symfonický orchester Slovenského rozhlasu. Performer: Peter Breiner.
    • National Anthems Edition 3 [Peter Breiner].
    • Marco Polo.
  • Unknown

    National Anthem of Micronesia (arr Peter Breiner)

    Performer: Symfonický orchester Slovenského rozhlasu. Performer: Peter Breiner.
    • National Anthems Edition 3 [Peter Breiner].
    • Marco Polo.
  • Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov

    The Russian National Anthem

    Performer: The Alexandrov Red Army Choir And Orchestra.
    • The Alexandrov Red Army Choir And Orchestra ‎– Live In Paris.
    • Silva Classics.
  • Rabindranath Tagore

    The National Anthem of India - Jana Gana Mana

    Performer: Begum Parveena Sultana.
    • Jana Mana Gana - A timeless creation.
    • Sony.
  • Unknown

    The National Anthem of Bahrain - Bahrainona

    • www.nationalanthems.info.
  • Unknown

    God Save the Queen arr Britten

    Performer: London Symphony Chorus. Performer: London Symphony Orchestra. Music Arranger: Benjamin Britten.
    • Spectrum.
  • James James

    Land Of My Fathers (Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau)

    Performer: Union. Featured Artist: the Llanelli Male Voice Choir.
    • World in Union.
    • Columbia.
  • Roy Williamson

    Flower of Scotland

    Performer: Morriston Orpheus Male Voice Choir.
    • The Sounds of Cardiff Arms Park.
    • Discurio.
  • Hubert Parry

    Jerusalem

    Performer: The Sixteen. Performer: Robert Quinney. Performer: Harry Christophers.
    • A New Heaven.
    • UCJ.
  • Edward Elgar

    Land of Hope and Glory

    Performer: BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra. Performer: James Loughran.
    • Highlights from Last Night of the Proms 1985.
    • BBC.
  • Hiromori Hayashi

    The National Anthem of Japan - Kimigayo

    Performer: Member of the Choir of the University of Art. Performer: Tokyo.
    • Hosho Kuro Memories of Japan.
    • Polydor.
  • James James

    Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

    Performer: Elin Manahan Thomas.
  • James James

    Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

    Performer: 5000 Voices at the Royal Albert Hall.
    • Souvenir of Wales.
  • John Stafford Smith

    The Star-Spangled Banner

    Performer: Elin Manahan Thomas.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ode to Joy (From Beethoven Symphony no 9)

    Performer: BBC Symphony Chorus. Performer: BBC Concert Orchestra. Performer: Stephen Jackson.
    • Ode To Joy.
    • Virgin.
  • Pau Casals

    Hymn to the United Nations

    Performer: Symfonický orchester Slovenského rozhlasu. Performer: Peter Breiner.
    • Complete National Anthems of the World.
    • Marco Polo.
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen

    Hymnen - Region 3

    Performer: Aloys Kontarsky. Performer: Alfred Alings & Rolf Gehlhaar. Performer: Johannes Fritsch. Performer: Harald Bojé.
    • Hymnen.
    • Stockhausen.
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen

    Hymnen - Region 4

    Performer: Aloys Kontarsky. Performer: Alfred Alings & Rolf Gehlhaar. Performer: Johannes Fritsch. Performer: Harald Bojé.
    • Hymnen.
    • Stockhausen.

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