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Open Forum National Anthems

One of the guiding themes of the project "European Music Trails" are the relationships between European and national identity which as a current topic are being discussed intensively all trouthout Europe. The addressed challenges are concentrated in the national anthems of different countries. On one hand the history of music in Leipzig shows that for the musicans embossed in Leipzig the relationship between national and European identity wasn't contrary but complementary. On the other hand the brocken history of national anthems and the connected life stories demonstrate the troublesome relations between national and European identity and the instrumentalization of national identities through nationalism and its aggression against other nations. In Leipzig as a city of the former GDR a lot of persons have witnessed two different national anthems. Furthermore, Hanns Eisler, composer of the GDR national anthem, was born in Leipzig. Lithuania has also a broken tradition regarding its national anthem.

In May of 2019 the history of the different national anthems and the connected life stories where shared musically and narratively in an Open Forum within workshops and discussion groups with musicians as well as citizens of all three partner countries Germany, Lithuania and Norway.

Open Forum National Anthems 30.4. - 22.5.2019

How are European and national identity connected? Different discussions all throughout Europe show how important and up-to-date this question is. It is focused within the national anthems of different countries. Do we still need national anthems? What do I, on a personal level, think about them? Is the text of the anthem modern enough, do I feel represented by it? Simultaniously the troublesome relation between national and European identity is demonstrated within the broken histories of the national anthems and the connected life stories. In open discussions, complimented by music and guests from Lithuania and Norway, these topics where discussed and therefore contributed to a constructive culture of debate. The Open Forum presented music as a means of expression for national as well as international identity and as connecting European "language".


Opening: Germany, Lithuania, Norway – National Anthems and their (Hi)Stories

Tue, 30.4.2019, 7 pm, Zeitgeschichtliches Forum Leipzig, Grimmaische Str. 6

Rasa Murauskaite (musicologist from Lithuania), Vegard Nilsen (conducter from Norway), Prof. Helmut Loos (musicologist from Germany) and Jan Benzien (former canoe world champion) spoke at the opening about their different national anthems and their experiences with them. Afterwards the audience discussed in small groups what they connect with their national anthem on a personal level and which topics and questions they have within this context.


National Anthems: Anchor of Identity or Ballast in Europe? – Bar Talk

Wed, 8.5.2019, 20:00, Kildare City Pub, Barfußgäßchen 5-7

With guest Hermann Winkler MEP (President of the Saxon Soccer Association) we will discuss if national anthems do unite or separate, how it feels to change from one national anthem to another, how much we need an anthem as Europeans and what all of this has to do with sports.


Happy with Our National Anthem? – Workshop

Wed, 15.5.2019, 18:30, Gipsabgusssammlung Uni Leipzig, Ritterstr. 14

Out of protest against the "Deutschlandlied" (Song of the Germans), Bertolt Brecht wrote his "Kinderhymne" (Children's Anthem) in 1950, which was put into notes shortly after by Hanns Eisler. During the German reunification there was a public debate if the two anthems of the Federal Republic of Germany and German Democratic Republic shoul be united as well, merged in different ways. In our workshop participants were able to activly work on the current national anthem and to think about, what parts of the anthem they felt comfortable with, what should be deleted or what was missing. The thought about, what should be changed, wich statements should stay and which words definitely should disappear.


National Anthems: Between Silent and Solemn  – Storytelling Café

Sun, 19.5.2019, 15:00, Café Telegraph, Dittrichring 18-20

National anthems often are responsible for strong emotions – positive or negative. One person gets teary-eyed when she hears the anthem of her childhood, another person fights the memories he associates with the anthem's text. While drinking coffee and eating cake participants talked about what they feel hearing their national anthem and what experiences, memories or stories they associate with it.


Visits to Leipzig Primary Schools

Tue, 21.5.2019 and Wed, 22.5.2019, Primary School Hohnstädt, Fanny-Hensel-Primary School Leipzig

With the Kirda-Family-Trio (Lithuania), Mariam Kharatyan and Redi Shypheja (Norway).

During two mornings musicians from Lithuania and Norway visited primary school pupils in their classrooms and told them about their countries, and their traditions regarding their national anthems. The children where invited to sing along, make music or dance with them.


Closing: Sing-Along – 3 Countries, 4 Anthems, Songs and Folk Music

Wed, 22.5.2019, 19:00, Zeitgeschichtliches Forum Leipzig, Grimmaische Str. 6

The Kirda-Family-Trio (Lithuania), the a cappella ensemble Calmus (Leipzig) as well as Mariam Kharatyan and Redi Shypheja (Norway) performed a programme  about and around the national anthems of their countries. Alongside pieces of contemporary composers they also played and sang folk music and modern interpretations and created a framework for a retrospect on the intensive engagement with national anthems during the last three weeks.


In Cooperation with:



The project has funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media (Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien, BKM) within the context of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. Sharing Heritage

Funded by the Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony (Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen). This measure is co-financed by taxpayers money on the basis of the budget which was decided by the members of the Saxon state parliament.