Last week, we all heard about the national anthem snafu that happened at a shooting tournament in Kuwait. If you missed the news, the organizers of the tournament mistakenly played the fake Kazakhstani national anthem created by Sacha Baron Cohen for his Kazakhstani character, Borat. The organizers said they choose the fake anthem mistakenly when searching for the real one online. The Kazakhstani team seemed to take the incident in stride—they even held their hands over their hearts as the fake anthem played—but demanded an apology and a new awards ceremony afterwards.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was a big fan of Martin Luther, who composed many of the chorales that we still hear in church today. One of Bach’s most famous pieces that was inspired by Luther was “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,” specifically the chorus of this piece.
Béla Bartók was an Austro-Hungarian composer who was born in a small town in what is now Romania in 1881. Throughout his lifetime, the composer lived in many different places, but most notably recorded the folk music of native peoples. As he elevated some of their music for listening in classical music venues and the like, he also became one of the fathers of ethnomusicology, or the study of music indigenous to various groups throughout the world.
Claude Debussy’s music is some of the most beautiful and enduring ever created. The French composer, who lived from 1862 to 1918, composed music that everyone seems to know and many young piano students use to show off, including “Clair de Lune” and “Beau Soir”. His music is so enduring because Debussy’s sense of the beautiful was so universal and acute, translating across countries, cultures and centuries.