Let’s thank Mozart for Canada’s national anthem

MusicalToronto finds the source of Canada’s national anthem in Mozart’s Magic Flute.

Compare and contrast. Read here.

They’re right.

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  • Nothing new here for me or any of the millions of Canadians familiar with The Magic Flute. But thanks for trying to do a Canada story on this, our Sesquicentennial. A familiar phrase, that’s about it.

    You would profit far more from the comparison of the US National Anthem and the Anacreontic Song for a post on July 4.

    Oh, and if you are chatting to your pal Michael Vincent, you might inform him that the composer of O Canada was NOT female. That kind of ignorance is staggering.

  • It’s Canada’s 150th this year. Today is the day. So why not be gracious and post something positive about Canada and Canadian music instead of making a musical “aboot” joke?
    Pretty much every Canadian who listens to classical music knows that the opening notes of the anthem are the same as the Mozart, and also a guitar piece by Sor, and a bunch of other pieces. It’s not particularly surprising to start a thematic phrase with the notes of the tonic chord. It’s not even surprising to finish those three notes on the tonic, harmonized VI.

    Why not talk about the musical legacy of Healy Willan?
    Or Srul Irving Glick?
    Or Jacques Hétu?
    Or some of the great young and not-so-young living composers who are breathing life into Canadian music?

    I’m certain some pedantic European will chime in to poo-poo the notion of anything “great” coming from Canada, but we’ll ignore that, because… well, it’s Canada Day and we’re proud. Proud of our artists, our scientists, our thinkers, and our achievements. And we’re proud of our place in this world, small as it may be.

    So celebrate our 150th anniversary. Don’t just stoop to a stupid euro-trashy joke.

    Happy Canada Day to all others.

    • I didn’t take it as a joke. It’s a bit of interesting musical serendipity, appropriate for the day.

    • Countries like Canada have more potential in cultural terms than the heart lands of culture where the flame has more or less fizzled-out and glasses have become dusty. The great flourishing of Hellenism took place when Athens as a cultural centre had fallen asleep. The Renaissance began in a backward area where culture had stagnated: Italy.

  • How absolutely astonishing to hear the Canadian National Anthem composed far ahead of time by the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!! As a Sage once
    wrote ~ “It’s not what we look at but what we ‘see’ when we look that counts …” The same is true of what we ‘hear’ when we truly listen to what we ‘hear’!

    Sending admiring compliments to the insightful ear and insights of the Creator
    of Slipped Disc, Norman Lebrecht, for his ‘musically archeological” discovery for
    Canada Day, 2017 ~ An added Gift is hearing this performed by none other than
    the Berlin Philharmonic!!

    Thank you dear Mr. Lebrecht! I shall share this with my Canadian better ‘other’ who only mentioned Canada Day was July 1st last evening with heartfelt pride!

    From the ‘Colonies’ (USA) ~ happy neighbour of The Commonwealth’s Canada

    Elisabeth Matesky

  • It’s indeed quite similar. Even more striking is the similarity between the European hymn and the last mvt of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Talking about being ahead of your time….!

    • For the record: can we bring some rigor to the process here? Between “O Canada” and Mozart’s March of the Priests from Magic Flute, the first three notes are the same, then the following six follow the same sequence, but one tone higher. Then it goes somewhere else. Not quite the same. Details I guess.

  • 1) The Musical Toronto article is 3 years old.
    2) By ‘anthem’, do you mean the first three notes?
    3) The article also says Calixa Lavallée was a woman. She had a great moustache.

      • Since it was covered before, then why not spend this article to congratulate Canada on the 150th anniversary of Confederation, instead of smugly proclaiming that our national anthem is plagiarized?

        Why not talk about the contributions Canada has made to the cultural scene?

        • The national anthem is not plagiarized but inspired by the best of WEstern music, like the AUstrian anthem which is taken from a Haydn quartet.

          After the fall of the Soviet Union, Moldavia had experimented with a 12-tone hymn in an attempt to create a westernized, modern symbolism, but that did not work-out since the brass bands could not tell whether they were playing the right or the wrong notes.

  • Apologies for my “blind spot” re Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’ containing the chords of your beautiful National Anthem ~ I only ask don’t be so hard on Mr. Lebrecht, folks ~ He certainly means well in saluting your grand Nation which is heralded for Greats in Music (James Ehnes’s, wonderful Violinist!) Giant, Glenn Gould, the Toronto Symphony & their recently late Concertmaster, Jacques Israelevitch, my opposing play-off mate for Associate Concertmaster of Sir Georg Solti’s Chicago Symohony Orchestra, who remained a kind colleague and friend after our mutual departure’s from the CSO. Jacques gave the Toronto Symphony strings great leadership, and brought them into technicolour! Your Montreal Symphony is on the Big Orchestra Map alongside Toronto and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, plus your world renowned Stratford Shakespeare Festival; the Dynasty of Great Canadian Figure Skating headed by marvel, Scott Hamilton, great Olumpic skater/coach, Brian Orser, the ever brilliant & evocative Ekvis Stoijko (a sort of buddie of mine), your platinum Ice Dancing Team which truly deserved Olympic Gold in the SLC 2002 Olympics and after a furor over jury goings on, the Canadian Ice Dancing Duo was awarded a Gold Medal which was a first in Olympic history and only right, just and fair ~ Canadian Comedy which is insanely funny and never-been-there-before brilliance in Mike Myers and a host of Toronto & parts further based comics has had The World Laughing with utter joy!! Your Dance and CBC Radio/Television plus other wonderful Arts activities and Canadian canvas artists are part of the Canadian Cultural Crown, and don’t even hint that Canada is a small part of the international Arts Scene ~ No Way!! Canada is in the forefront and will continue forging ahead in this now 17 year old Twenty First Century, of this you can be sure!!!

    Thanking our kind neighbour’s to the North for comradeship in WWII plus so much help in hard times, and in our long neighbourly relationship please accept my Grateful Salute to all of you and your countrymen/women upon your One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary Year of Nation-hood on Canada Day, July First
    of 2017!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Your USA ‘Colonies’ neighbour just to the South with Hearty Congratulations!!!!

    Elisabeth Matesky *

    *Int’l Musical Career profiled at http://www.linkedin.com /Elisabeth Matesky

    *YouTube ~ Jascha Heifetz Violin Master Classes, USC – Khachaturian 1st
    Mov’t, JH-7, Elisabeth Matesky (Russian Version best quality in English)

    *Facebook Page

    *ASTA (American String Teachers Association & father, Ralph Matesky)


  • Just got back from the EuroMac (European Music Analysis Conference) in Strasbourg, where Olga Sanchez gave a paper entitled “Interactions between Topics and Schemata: The Case of the Sacred Romanesca”: http://euromac2017.unistra.fr/en/conference/interactions-between-topics-and-schemata-the-case-of-the-sacred-romanesca-2/
    This is precisely the pattern used by Mozart in the Priests’ March in The Magic Flute, but earlier by Gluck in Iphigénie in Tauride, and by many other eighteenth-century composers in hymn-like passages in opera and other genres. In other words, it was already a commonplace in Mozart’s day, so there is no question of plagiarism here.

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