"Ode to Joy" is the anthem of Europe, also called the European anthem. It has been adopted by both the Council of Europe and the European Union. Due to the Council's intention that, as a semi-modern composition with a mythological flair, it does represent Europe as a whole, rather than any organisation. It is based on the final movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony composed in 1823, and is played on official occasions by both organisations.
Friedrich Schiller wrote the poem "An die Freude" ("To Joy") in 1785 as a "celebration of the brotherhood of man". In later life, the poet was contemptuous of this popularity and dismissed the poem as typical of "the bad taste of the age" in which it had been written. After Schiller's death, the poem provided the words for the choral movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th Symphony.
In 1971 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided to propose adopting the prelude to the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's 9th Symphony as the European anthem, taking up a suggestion made by Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi in 1955. Beethoven was generally seen as the natural choice for a European anthem. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe officially announced the European Anthem on 19 January 1972 at Strasbourg: the prelude to "Ode to Joy", 4th movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th symphony. In 1974 the same piece of music was adopted as the National Anthem of Rhodesia.
Conductor Herbert von Karajan was asked to write three instrumental arrangements – for solo piano, for wind instruments and for symphony orchestra and he conducted the performance used to make the official recording. He wrote his decisions on the score, notably those concerning the tempo. Karajan decided on minim (half note) = 80 whereas Beethoven had written crotchet (quarter note) = 120.
The anthem was launched via a major information campaign on Europe Day in 1972. In 1985, it was adopted by EU heads of State and government as the official anthem of the then European Community – since 1993 the European Union. It is not intended to replace the national anthems of the member states but rather to celebrate the values they all share and their unity in diversity. It expresses the ideals of a united Europe: freedom, peace, and solidarity.
It was to have been included in the European Constitution along with the other European symbols; however, the treaty failed ratification and was replaced by the Treaty of Lisbon, which does not include any symbols. A declaration was attached to the treaty, in which sixteen member states formally recognised the proposed symbols. In response, the European Parliament decided that it would make greater use of the anthem, for example at official occasions. In October 2008, the Parliament changed its rules of procedure to have the anthem played at the opening of Parliament after elections and at formal sittings.
"Ode to Joy" is the anthem of the Council of Europe and the European Union, promoted as a symbol for the whole of Europe as are the other European symbols. It is used on occasions such as Europe Day and formal events such as the signing of treaties. The European Parliament seeks to make greater use of the music, then-Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering stated he was moved when the anthem was played for him on his visit to Israel and ought to be used in Europe more often.
In 2008 it was used by Kosovo as its national anthem until it adopted its own, and it was played at its declaration of independence, as a nod to the EU's role in its independence from Serbia.
At the 2007 signing ceremony for the Treaty of Lisbon, the plenipotentiaries of the European Union's twenty-seven member states stood in attendance while the "Ode to Joy" was played and a choir of 26 Portuguese children sang the original German lyrics.
In 1992 the anthem was used by CIS national football team at the 1992 UEFA European Football Championship.
On 4 October 2010 the anthem was used when a European team beat a team representing the United States of America to win the Ryder Cup golf tournament. The European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie decided to break with tradition and play the European anthem by itself instead of the individual anthems from participating European nations. It was similarly employed at the 2014 Ryder Cup prizegiving ceremony on 28 September, after Europe had beaten America under its captain, Paul McGinley.
"Ode to Joy" is used as the theme song to the 2016 UEFA Euro qualifying and the European qualifying of the 2018 FIFA World Cup football competition at the introduction of every match.
"Ode to Joy" , automatically orchestrated in seven different styles, has been used on 18 June 2015 during the ceremony celebrating the 5000th ERC grantee as anthem of the European Research Council to represent achievements of European research.
In 2017, MPs from Scotland National Party first whistled and then sang "Ode to Joy" at the House of Commons to protest against the Brexit referendum.
Due to the large number of languages used in the European Union, the anthem is purely instrumental, and the German lyrics that Friedrich Schiller wrote and on which Beethoven based the melody have no official status. Despite this, the German lyrics are often sung by choirs or ordinary people when the anthem is played: for example, at the 2004 enlargement on the German-Polish border, the crowd watching the ceremony playing the music sang along with the German lyrics.
Aside from this, several translations of the poem used by Beethoven as well as original works have attempted to provide lyrics to the anthem in various languages. Versions of the anthem including lyrics have been sung outside official EU occasions.
In France, several adaptations of Beethoven's composition were known long before the onset of European Union. A version by the librettist Maurice Bouchor (1855–1929) entitled Hymn to Universal Humanity (Hymne à l'universelle humanité) adding several verses to a preceding version of Jean Ruault, was published. This version and another by Maurice Bouchor, published with Julien Thiersot under the title Hymn for future times (Hymne des temps futurs) in a music book which was widespread among basic schools, is performed unofficially by school choirs during European events. Another version by the Catholic writer Joseph Folliet (1903–1972) is also known.