The Greek Anthem is based on the “Hymn to the Freedom”, a large 158 verse poem written by Dionysios Solomos, a distinguished poet from Zakynthos Island. It was inspired by the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Ottoman Empire. During 1828 Nikolaos Mantzaros composed the music for Solomos’ hymn, one version for the entire poem, and one for just the first two stanzas. Although King Othon (Otto) decorated both of them for their work (1845 and 1849), he did not replace the Royal Anthem of that time with the Solomos/Mantzaros hymn. The royal anthem then in use was a musical derivative from the German one, with a text glorifying Othon and his dynasty. After the overthrow of the dynasty, the new King George I and the Greek establishment decided to look for a clearly Greek work, both with respect to the poetry and the music. The “Hymn to the Freedom” was readily there – extremely popular since the Revolution times, often recited or sung during patriotic meetings and celebrations, and the “Hymn to Freedom” (with Mantzaro’s version for the first two stanzas only) became the national anthem.
The Greek anthem is also used in Cyprus, which has a substantial Greek community.
Special thanks to: Theo Stylianides for the sheet music.