The Ode to Joy, the fourth and last movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, became the anthem of the Council of Europe in 1972 and of the European Community in 1985. Eight years later, the anthem was adopted by the then European Union. But why did the choice fall on this symphony?
Symphony No. 9 is the last symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the greatest composers of all time. The symphony was first performed publicly in 1824 in Vienna and was very innovative due to the use of a completely unusual choral singing for the symphony in the fourth movement. Its text is the text of the poem of the same name written by the German poet and Beethoven's friend Friedrich Schiller.
The Ode to Joy as the anthem of the Council of Europe was proposed by the former founder of the Pan-European Union, Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, as early as 1955. This proposal was adopted by the Council of Europe on 19 January 1972, six months before his death.
The anthem is played rather on ceremonial occasions or at the signing of formal treaties concerning the European Union as a whole. The Member States of the European Union continue to use their own national anthems exclusively. Due to the German text of the composition and motto of the European Union "United in diversity", only its instrumental part is played. There are also versions in the official languages of the Member States, and also, for example, in Latin or Esperanto. The European Union has taken over the anthem because it expresses the ideas of a united Europe, i.e. freedom, peace, and solidarity.