Another variation on Canada’s national anthem

Another variation on Canada’s national anthem


norman lebrecht

August 25, 2017

We’ve reported before that the source of ‘O Canada’ is to be found in Mozart’s Magic Flute.

But it has just leaped out from another place, taking us completely by surprise.

Ivan Ilic’s wonderful Chandos excavation of the forgotten music of Antoine Reicha contains a whole sonata built on a theme that we would now recognise as O Canada.

It’s laconic, witty and ever-so-slightly disrespectful to Mozart.

You really need to hear it.


  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Ivan has created a wonderful recording here. Perhaps it will help create future interest in these works and others by Antoine Reicha. Reicha is remembered mostly for his wind quintets, and his treatise on counterpoint. He was a friend of Beethoven, from their young years playing in an orchestra, yet he did not want his music to be published. He became a respected professor, and composer. (While at The Juilliard School, the late Dr. Barry S. Brook tossed a manila envelope across the board room table during our dissertation class. He said, ‘This is Antoine Reicha’s “Symphonie Concertante pour Deux Violoncelles et Orchestra”, written around 1807. Put the copies of the parts into a new score, edit it and give me a foreword”. As a result, it is published by Arteria, thanks to Klaus Heymann). Good luck with this very interesting contribution, Ivan.

  • Ross Amico says:

    Regarding “O Canada,” don’t forget Liszt’s “Festklänge.”

  • Mikey says:

    Norman, I’m sensing an unhealthy obsession developing here.

    But to be perfectly frank, I’d much rather an anthem with such illustrious antecedents than a drinking song, or one that’s been tossed around from country to country before settling in to its “official” capacity.

  • Martin Anderson says:

    As it happens, this CD coincides with the release of the second in Henrik Löwenmark’s traversal of Reicha’s piano music on Toccata Classics. Have a listen at