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Open Forum on National Anthems

How do European and national identities relate to each other? In various debates throughout Europe, the topicality of this question becomes clear. It is spotlighted in the national anthems of the countries. Do we still need national anthems? What do I personally associate with them? Is the text still contemporary, do I feel adequately represented? At the same time, the tense relationship between national and European identity is illustrated by the fractured histories of national anthems and the life stories associated with them. In open discussion formats, accompanied by music and guests from Lithuania and Norway, this thematic field was discussed, thus contributing to the cultivation of a fruitful culture of debate. The Open Forum presented music as a means of expression of both national and European identity and as a unifying European "language".


Lithuania between "National Anthem" and "Ode to Joy"

On March 16th, 2019, the M.K. Čiurlionis House in Lithuania hosted an international forum on national identity for one day to discuss the topic from different perspectives. Lithuanian and international intellectuals spoke at Vilnius City Hall during the forum, which chose the Lithuanian and European anthems as symbolic starting points.
The program consisted of short lectures by German and Norwegian experts, a panel discussion, and a concert at the end which reflected the theme of the forum with folk songs and electronic music, illustrating in an artistic way the cultural changes from the beginning of the twentieth to the twenty-first century.

The following panellists participated:
Germany: Prof. Dr. Helmut Loos (musicologist and director of the Grieg Memorial Centre).
Norway: Brit Marie Hovland (historian and professor at University College Oslo-Bergen).
Lithuania: Rytis Zemkauskas (cultural journalist and professor at Vytautas Magnus University); Rimas Čuplinskas (founder and creative director of the media and design agency "Umlautmedia" operating in Germany and Lithuania); Rimantas Miknys (historian and professor from Mykolas Riomeris University); Marijonas Mikutavičius (journalist and musician); Gitanas Nausėda (economist and president of Lithuania since July 2019); Nerija Putinaitė (philosopher); Rokas Zubovas (pianist and director of M. K. Čiurlionis House).

The musical program was performed by the Čiurlionis House Choir, singer, performer and composer of electronic music, neo-flamenco dancer and actor Phil Vonas and pianist Rokas Zubovas.

Open Forum on National Anthems in Germany

In Leipzig, from 30/04 to 22/05/2019, various events, such as panel discussions, storytelling cafes and pub talks took place and also pupils of Leipzig elementary schools discussed this topic.

Opening: Germany, Lithuania, Norway - National Anthems and Their (Hi)Stories
30/04/2019, 19:00, Zeitgeschichtliches Forum Leipzig
With: Rasa Murauskaite (musicologist from Lithuania), Vegard Nilsen (conductor from Norway), Prof. Helmut Loos (musicologist from Germany), Jan Benzien (former canu world champion) and Gyldtfeldt Quartet (Leipzig).

National Anthems: Identity Anchor or Ballast in Europe? – Pub Talk
8/05/2019, 20:00, Kildare City Pub
With Hermann Winkler MEP (president of the Saxonian Football Association).

Satisfied With Our National Anthem? - Modification Workshop
15/05/2019, 18:30, Gipsabgusssammlung Uni Leipzig

National Anthems: Between Silent and Solemn - Storytelling Café
19.05.2019, 15:00 Uhr, Café Telegraph

School Visits to Leipzig Elementary Schools
21/05 and 22/05/2019, Grundschule Hohnstädt, Fanny-Hensel-Grundschule Leipzig

Closing: Sing Along – 3 Countries, 4 Hymns, Songs and Folk Music
22/05/2019, 19:00, Zeitgeschichtliches Forum Leipzig
With the Kirda Family Trio (Lithuania), Mariam Kharatyan and Redi Shypheja (Norwegen), and Calmus (Germany).

Podcast "Open Forum" from Norway

Due to the pandemic, the Open Forum in Norway was postponed and MB Classics decided to produce a podcast about national identity and national anthems instead. Four speakers met at the Oslo Konserthus on 21/10/2020 for a very interesting day of discussions and dialogues about their very different backgrounds in this field. The participants were journalist, writer and musician Martin Bækkelund (Norway), linguist Lina Baltrukoniene (Lithuania), artist Darius Baltrukonis (Lithuania), assistant principal cellist of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra Katharina Hager (Germany) and conductor Vegard Nilsen (Norway) as moderator.
The podcast is available on Facebook and Youtube.


Cooperation partner in Leipzig:


The project is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM) as part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

Funded by the Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony. This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget passed by the members of the Saxon Parliament.