November 01, 2000

The Indestructible Anthem?

On Oct. 12, yet another meeting was held in the Kremlin to try to settle on words for Russia’s national anthem. Yes, the country already has a national anthem: The Patriotic Song, by Mikhail Glinka. But this is only a melody without any words. For the past five years, poets have been working diligently to produce lyrics for this music, something that will reflect the spirit of the New Russia. But to no avail. The Powers That Be have mercilessly rejected every draft submitted them. And no surprise: Glinka’s fine song is simply too complex—it’s a bit like trying to find words for Eine Kleine Nachtmusik or Beethoven’s monumental Fifth Symphony.

Whatever the reason, Russians are now becoming more and more impatient for a solution to this problem. All here were embarrassed by the “deafening silence” at the Sydney Olympics, when Russian medal winners had no words to sing along with their country’s anthem.

So now the age old Russian question rises up: “What is to be done?”

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