The Spanish Government will formally ask to restore Pau Casals’ anthem for the United Nations

The Catalan violoncello player and composer Pau Casals was asked in 1971 to create an anthem for the United Nations by the former Secretary General. However, after Pau Casals death and the change of UN Secretary General, the anthem was never played again. The Spanish Parliament’s Culture Commission came to an unanimous motion to ask the Spanish Government to push for the restoration of the United Nations official anthem.

CNA / Maria José Fidalgo

February 22, 2011 10:28 PM

Madrid (ACN).- The United Nations has an official anthem that was composed by Pau Casals 40 years ago. The anthem was a petition of the former UN Secretary General U Thant to the Catalan composer and violoncello player. In fact it was approved and used for some years, but with the new Secretary General, the anthem disappeared and was slowly forgotten. In an interview with CNA three weeks ago in New York, Pau Casals’ widow asked the Spanish Government to make the necessary steps to restore the United Nations anthem. Today, the Spanish Parliament’s Culture Commission approved unanimously a motion to ask the Spanish Government to make the necessary steps for the restoration of the United Nations’ anthem, composed by Pau Casals. The motion was a proposal of the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC).

“Pau Casals’ political coherence meant that, for the democratic world, his figure became a symbol of the fight against Franco and, consequently, he [became] a reference of the peoples’ causes”, stated Joan Tardà, MP from ERC. In the end, ERC agreed on a text with the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE). The text received then the support from all the parties with representation at the Culture Commission of the Spanish Parliament. Presumably, the Socialist Spanish Government will follow what its group voted at the Parliament. The text formally asks the Spanish Government to make the necessary procedures to propose the United Nations to restore its anthem. To succeed, Pau Casals’ Peace Anthem would become again the United Nations’s official anthem and would be played again.

In addition, the text foresees to ask the United Nations to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Pau Casals’ concert at the UN General Assembly, when he interpreted the Peace anthem. This celebration would come with parallel events and activities “to ennoble the peace and the freedom”, according to the text. The Spanish Parliament asks the Spanish Government to regularly inform the procedures that are made.

The history of the anthem

In 1971, U Thant, who was then the United Nations’ Secrtary General, asked Pau Casals to compose an anthem for the organisation. The piece was to celebrate peace and the 25 years of the organisation. Pau Casals composed the ‘Peace Anthem’, which became the United Nations’ anthem. U Thant used it at the beginning and the end of every UN official events. However, once U Thant left the office, the anthem was not used any more and was slowly forgotten.

Nowadays the United Nations does not have an official anthem, but there is an ongoing debate about having one. As Marta Casals explained to CNA three weeks ago, her husband already composed an anthem for the United Nations, which was approved and used. For this reason Marta Casals has asked for it to be restored again. The Spanish Parliament is supporting her petition. If the anthem needs to be simpler and not requiring a symphonic orchestra, Marta Casals asks to propose the ‘Song of the Birds’ (El Cant dels Ocells), the Catalan popular song that Casals played at the end of all his concerts, including those at the White House and before the UN General Assembly. This song became a symbol of the fight against Franco’s Fascist dictatorship and the fight for freedom and human rights.