The Czech national anthem is 170 years old

Фото: Яна Шустова

What you're hearing is the Czech national anthem "Kde domov muj" -"Where is my homeland". This Tuesday marks the 180th anniversary since the song was composed. The music was by Frantisek Škroup, a strong advocate of Czech national music at the time, and both the words and music of the song come from the opening scene of the opera "Fidlovacka". Martin Mikule looks at its history.

Fidlovacka was a patriotic opera written by Josef Kajetan Tyl and performed in 1834 in the Prague Estates Theatre. At the time, Czechs were only an ethnic minority in the Austrian Empire where the German language dominated. The 19th century was a time when the Czech nation was striving for recognition. Drama and art played an important role in this process.

Josef Kajetan Tyl asked the composer Skroup to compose a festive patriotic chorale, but the result was a bit different. Skroup - based on Tyl's text - produced a sentimental slightly melancholy folk song.

Where is my homeland?

Where is my homeland, where is my homeland?

Waters murmur through the meadows,

forests rustle all over the rocky hills,

spring blossoms glitter in the orchards,

paradise on earth to look at!

This is a beautiful country,

the Czech country, my homeland,

the Czech country, my homeland!

The Opera was first run on December 21, 1834. There were lots of different reactions, some were praising the Opera as a unique patriotic piece, others criticized it for being too folksy and vulgar. But during the following years and decades the song became very popular and was widely sung at various official occasions.

There was a long debate going on as to whether a more serious piece should be composed for similar purposes, for example by famous Czech composer Bedrich Smetana.

But when the independent Czechoslovakia was established in 1918, the disputes gradually calmed down the song was chosen as the first part of the country's anthem. The second part was made up of the Slovak song "Storm over the Tatras".

Czechs have had a few other songs that have been considered important and representative but "Where is my homeland" achieved the status of an officially recognized anthem. When Czechoslovakia split up in 1992, the Czech Republic decided to maintain it among its state symbols, and it is the national anthem to this day.