PM decides Czech anthem needs improvement

25-09-2008

New proposals by the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek will see the Czech national anthem being spruced up in time for a national holiday on September 28 - the day of Czech statehood. The changes are supposed to gently update the anthem and make it more “noble” and appropriate for the modern age.

The Czech national anthem “Kde Domov Můj?” or “Where is My Home?” has been used since the foundation of the country in 1918 – albeit with an added section to represent Slovakia, and even an officially sanctioned German version for the Sudeten minorities. Since the 1993 break-up of Czechoslovakia, it has been the Czech national anthem. The text was written in 1834 by the playwright Josef Kajetán Tyl for a play – the music was written by the composer František Škroup. The song soon became popular among Czechs, and it wasn’t long before it was considered an unofficial anthem of sorts.

Mirek Topolánek, photo: CTKMirek Topolánek, photo: CTK Yet now, after decades in use, the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has decided that it needs a facelift – and there is nothing in Czech law that says the anthem has to be played a particular way. The music will premiere at celebrations on September 28 to mark the day of Czech statehood. But rather than the addition of deep bass or a punchy hip-hop beat, the changes are in fact very modest: A slight change in tempo and modest changes in orchestration. Discussing the changes, Mr Topolánek sought to reassure people stating that he loved the hymn as much as anyone else, and that the new version would better connect the past and present and be nobler. In fact, four separate versions have been recorded by the Czech National Theatre under the stewardship of conductor and arranger Jiří Bělohlávek.

Here is a comparison. This is the old version:

And here is one of the new versions:

Next week, the four different new versions will be put up on the Czech government website for anyone to download for free.

25-09-2008