How “Awaken thee, Romanian!” became the anthem of our country. The story of the lyrics splashed with blood

Courage and the power to move on, regardless the inevitable difficult conditions in the evolution of a nation, are almost defining features for Romanians, with which they are proud. However, these qualities did not emerge alone, but “helped” by many factors. One of the catalysts that set in motion the persistency and love for their country was the song, the musical connection that united thousands of hearts.

When we recall the songs that motivated, but which also represented a release of feelings accumulated during the crucial episodes occurred throughout history, “Awaken thee, Romanian!” (in Romanian: Deșteaptă-te, române!) occupies a leading position, because it was “splashed with blood”, as Phd. Valer Rus, the manager of “Casa Mureșenilor” Museum in Brașov, explained for the Romanian Matrix.

In a place protected by light and damaging temperatures prominently “reigns” the page on which Andrei Mureșanu (1816 – 1863) wrote, during the 1848 Revolution, the lyrics of the poem “An echo” (in Romanian: Un răsunet), that is the anthem of our country, known as “Awaken thee, Romanian!”, whose lines usually are on the first pages of the students’ manuals.

Located in the centre of Brașov, “Casa Mureșenilor” Museum was the home of the most important family in Brașov. Iacob Mureșanu (or Mureșianu), an intellectual from Rebrișoara (Bistrița – Năsăud) moved to Brașov in 1837 and three years later, got married with Sevastia Nicolau, who came from a family of rich merchants, those who bought the building known today as “Casa Mureșenilor”.

“An echo”, nourishment for the hearts of Romanians

His well-known cousin, Andrei Mureșanu came to Brașov also and taught with Iacob at a high school located at the feet of Tâmpa. The two of them cooperated with George Barițiu (1812 – 1893) at Gazeta de Transilvania (first published in 1838), the first newspaper in Romanian of that region. Here, in the literary supplement of the Gazette, “Foaie pentru minte, inimă și literatură”, Andrei Mureșanu published the poem “An echo”.

A facsimile of the page on which the poetry „An Echo” was written

A facsimile of the page on which the poetry „An Echo” was written Photo: Marius Donici

”I have a personal theory concerning the origin of the anthem. An anthem becomes one, when it is sang by people, even more so if they sang it in difficult times, when they need «encouragement», animation. Therefore, these «warm» songs with «We praise our country, how beautiful our mountains and our women are», are not battle or revolutionary songs. Or, «Awaken thee, Romanian!», on the background of the 19th century, had this role. Likewise, an anthem does not appear because somebody wants to, or because the Parliament gives an ordinance: «This is the anthem!» In 1987, the people of Brașov were singing it in the streets, during the workers’ rebellion. They did not sang joyful and cheering songs, but a song that animated them. Romanians sang it in Timișoara also, on the cathedral’s steps, when the Romanian army was shooting at them, in December 1989. That is why a national anthem becomes an anthem – when, unfortunately, it is splashed with blood.

It was sang during the First World War (1914-1918), it was sang at the Alba Iulia Gathering (1918), during the legionnaires’ rebellion (1941). Romanians usually sing in troubled, difficult moments. It was also sang during the rebellions that took place in 2012, 2014 and 2015, when the tragedy in Colectiv occurred”, explained, for the Romanian Matrix, Valer Rus, the manager of “Casa Mureșenilor” Museum.

The lyrics of Mureșanu have been appreciated not only by the Romanians who resonated with the pathos of the lyrical composition, but by historians also – Nicolae Bălcescu was seeing in it “one of the most beautiful achievements” of the 19th century and called it the “Romanians’ Marseillaise”.

The next generation will sing this anthem also. I hope we would not need “Awaken thee, Romanian!” too often, because it has been sang in difficult times

Although some would think that this anthem, “splashed with blood”, is no longer of interest to Romanians – whose stammering is registered while they sing it, by the televisions greedy of cheap entertainment – the management of the cultural institution consulted by the Romanian Matrix believes that the situation is not that bleakly and that there is still hope.

Phd. Valer Rus, the headmaster of the „Casa Mureșenilor” Museum in Brașov, talking about „The Founding Fathers” of Romania

Phd. Valer Rus, the headmaster of the „Casa Mureșenilor” Museum in Brașov, talking about „The Founding Fathers” of Romania

“Although the post 1990’s generation did not learn it regularly in school, the primary classes are singing it in schools, every Monday. They know only the first lines – which is also helpful. Slowly – slowly we will learn it, especially because we pertain to the generation that grew up with «Three colours I know in the world» (in Romanian: Trei culori cunosc pe lume). If you ask me, I might sing it better than «Awaken thee, Romanian!», because, as I said, it has been sang in difficult times. Romanians have the talent to «get stuck» in difficult times with a certain frequency and then they need music”.

On the time axis, 1990 is the year when, officially, the poem of Andrei Mureșanu became the anthem of Romania, aspect that goes without saying, by virtue of the theory exposed by the historian Rus, according to which people decide their anthem. It seems that the leaders have complied.

Interior, „Casa Mureșenilor”

“In December, people were singing it in the street, but it was not an official anthem. An anthem becomes one because people sing it, not because a government wants it. The government consecrates. It was questioned whether to still sing «Three colours I know in the world», which has quiet lyrics, nothing out of the ordinary, but everybody was associating it with the communist regime. So they gave up that song and they asked: «What shall we sing instead?». Ion Iliescu signed the ordinance. There was also «Romanian battalions, pass the Carpathians!» (in Romanian: Treceți, batalioane române, Carpații!), but then the question: «Against whom?». There are a few songs nationally recognised. If we have had a “velvet” revolution, probably something else would have been sang, but in our case, people died on the streets.”

People of Brașov, proud of the Romanian anthem

Although there are contradictory opinions that assign the melody of the anthem to Anton Pann or Gheorghe Ucenescu (1830 – 1896), the locals’ pride is that “Awaken thee, Romanian!” was sang for the first time in Brașov.

“The lines unquestionably pertain to Mureșanu, but with regards to the melody, there is the theory that it belongs to Gheorghe Ucenescu, one of the cantors of Saint Nicholas Church. He wrote that he sang more trial songs and the poet stopped at the melody «From my mother’s breast» (in Romanian: Din sânul maicii mele).”

Mureșanu family believed in the power of the word, not that of the sword, and that is why they offered Romanians Gazeta de Transilvania (the name of the newspaper suffered some changes as Gazeta Transilvană or Gazeta Transilvaniei), a newspaper at which the “exceptional triad” formed by the intellectuals Iacob, Andrei Mureșanu and George Barițiu cooperated. The newspaper’s editorial office is located right in Casa Mureșenilor in the centre of Brașov.

Gazeta de Transilvania, the region`s first Romanian newspaper

Gazeta de Transilvania, the region`s first Romanian newspaper

„The newspaper was the first that greeted the unification of the Romanian Principalities (1859). It inoculated to the people of Brașov the idea of union. And they were not alone in this action. «Telegraful Roman» (1853) is published at the initiative of Andrei Șaguna (1808 – 1873), and in 1884 is published in Sibiu, “Tribuna”, which had the title page: «The sun is raising for all Romanians in Bucharest». (…) All these newspapers were the time’s Facebook and television. Those who were buying the newspaper were the opinion leaders, as we have today those creating the «virals». They were usually read by the priest of the village, the teacher, the professor.”

Today’s “Casa Mureșenilor” Museum keeps the documentation legacy of Mureșanu family, which had an important contribution not only to the Brașov culture, but also to the Romanian culture. Likewise, the institution has also a hall dedicated to the history of music, honouring George Dima (1847 – 1925), Tiberiu Brediceanu (1877 – 1968) and Paul Richter (1875 – 1950).

The evolution of audio mediums, showcased in Casa Mureșenilor: from the oldest discs, to the iPod

The evolution of audio mediums, showcased in Casa Mureșenilor: from the oldest discs, to the iPod

“The youth must understand that before the technological miracle in which they were born and raised, there was something else. That «something else» is just as interesting and impressive, but gives you a time scale too. (…) Culture has different forms of manifestations. The challenge is to wrap the historical information in order to reach the young people’s hearts.”

Raluca Băncioiu

Raluca Băncioiu

She's a graduate of the MA program in Translation of the Contemporary Literary Text. She's an optimistic person and a true familist
Raluca Băncioiu

Ultimele postari ale lui Raluca Băncioiu (vezi toate)

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