UEFA Champions League Anthem

The UEFA Champions League Anthem, officially titled simply "Champions League", is the official anthem of the UEFA Champions League, written by English composer Tony Britten in 1992, and based on George Frideric Handel's Zadok the Priest.[1] It was also the official anthem of the UEFA Women's Champions League from its creation in 2001 to the 2021 creation of an independent anthem.[2] The complete anthem is about three minutes long, and has two short verses and the chorus. The lyrics are in UEFA's three official languages: English, French, and German. The chorus is set to the exclamations "Die Meister! Die Besten! Les grandes équipes! The champions!"

UEFA Champions League Anthem

Official anthem of UEFA Champions League
LyricsTony Britten, 1992
MusicTony Britten, adapted from George Frideric Handel, 1992
Audio sample
The last two verses of the UEFA Champions League Anthem

The anthem is played inside the stadium before the start of each UEFA Champions League match, in addition to the beginning and end of television broadcasts of the games. Special vocal versions of the anthem have been performed live at the UEFA Champions League Final. UEFA's official website states, "the anthem is now almost as iconic as the trophy."[3]

Composition edit

In 1991, UEFA instructed its commercial partner Television Event and Media Marketing (TEAM) to develop new ways of branding the European Cup (which would be renamed the UEFA Champions League in 1992). This process resulted in the Champions League's anthem, as well as its "starball" logo and distinctive house colours.[4]

"Magic... it's magic above all else. When you hear the anthem it captivates you straight away."

Zinedine Zidane.[5]

The anthem was written by English composer Tony Britten in 1992, adapted from George Frideric Händel's anthem Zadok the Priest, which is traditionally performed at the coronation of British monarchs. In a 2013 newspaper interview, Britten stated that "I had a commercials agent and they approached me to write something anthemic and because it was just after The Three Tenors at the World Cup in Italy so classical music was all the rage. Hooliganism was a major, major problem and UEFA wanted to take the game into a completely different area altogether. There's a rising string phase which I pinched from Handel and then I wrote my own tune. It has a kind of Handelian feel to it but I like to think it's not a total rip-off."[6] The composing process took "just a matter of days".[7] Britten also mentioned that he does not own the rights to the anthem, which are retained by UEFA, but he receives royalties when it is used.

For the recording used in television transmissions of UEFA Champions League matches and events, the piece was performed by London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and sung by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chorus.[1] The chorus is in UEFA's three official languages: English, French, and German.[8]

Anthony King writes:[4]

The majestic music which rises to an impressive major key crescendo signifies the installation of a new head of state. The baroque music of the Zadok anthem associates the Champions League with the monarchies of Ancien Regime Europe. The baroque music also interconnects with the silver house colours, for the aristocratic connotations evoked by the silver are reflected and affirmed in this noble music. It is notable here that the anthem is associated with the (silver) cup itself because, in the introductory sequences, the music reaches its climax just as the footage of the Cup being lifted at the end of the previous year's competition is shown. It is interesting that the anthem is orchestrated so that the most prominent instruments at this climax are horns; they communicate a shining metallic sound which musically reflects the trophy itself. Music and colours merge together as one dense signifier, communicating a concept of silver in both sound and vision.

Lyrics edit

Ce sont les meilleures équipes
Sie sind die allerbesten Mannschaften
The main event

Die Meister
Die Besten

Les grandes équipes
The champions

Une grande réunion
Eine große sportliche Veranstaltung
The main event

Ils sont les meilleurs
Sie sind die Besten
These are the champions

Die Meister
Die Besten

Les grandes équipes
The champions

Uses edit

The Champions League anthem is played before the two teams shake hands prior to the start of each match

The anthem's chorus is played before each UEFA Champions League game as the two teams are lined up, as well as at the beginning and end of television broadcasts of the matches, and when the winning team lifts the trophy after the final. Special vocal versions have been performed live at the Champions League Final with lyrics in other languages, changing over to the host country's language for the chorus. These versions were performed by:

In the 2013 final at Wembley Stadium, the chorus was played twice. In the 2018 and 2019 finals, held in Kyiv and Madrid respectively, the instrumental version of the chorus was played, by 2Cellos (2018) and Asturia Girls (2019),[9][10] while the 2020 and 2021 finals used the pre-recorded anthem's chorus instead, without any live performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 final similarly used a standard pre-recorded version of the anthem. In the 2023 final, held in Istanbul, Hungarian pianist Ádám György performed the piano version of the anthem.[11]

The complete anthem is about three minutes long, and has two short verses and a chorus. In addition to the anthem, there is also entrance music, which contains parts of the anthem itself, which is played as teams enter the field.[12] The anthem has been released commercially in its original version on iTunes and Spotify with the title of Champions League Theme. In 2018, composer Hans Zimmer remixed the anthem with rapper Vince Staples for EA Sports' video game FIFA 19, with it also featuring in the game's reveal trailer.[13]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b “UEFA Champions League anthem”. UEFA.com. Retrieved March 6, 2011
  2. ^ “New anthem and logo unveiled for UEFA Women’s Champions League”. UEFA.com. Retrieved May 29, 2021
  3. ^ "From Handel to Hala Madrid: music of champions". UEFA. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b King, Anthony (2004). "The New Symbols of European Football". International Review for the Sociology of Sport. 39 (3): 323–336. doi:10.1177/1012690204045599. S2CID 145168911.
  5. ^ "The story of the UEFA Champions League anthem". YouTube. UEFA. 8 March 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  6. ^ "Meet the Croydon man who wrote Champions League theme". Croydon Advertiser. Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. ^ Mackintosh, Thomas (23 August 2020). "Champions League: The man who made an anthem that inspires Messi". BBC News. Archived from the original on 22 August 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  8. ^ "What is the Champions League music? The lyrics and history of one of football's most famous songs". Wales Online. Archived from the original on 3 June 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  9. ^ "2Cellos to perform UEFA Champions League anthem in Kyiv". UEFA. Archived from the original on 25 May 2018. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  10. ^ “Asturia Girls to perform UEFA Champions League anthem in Madrid”. Archived 23 May 2019 at the Wayback Machine. UEFA.com. Retruevvd 19 June 2019
  11. ^ "Hungarian Pianist to Open Champions League Final". Hungary today. 7 June 2023. Retrieved 25 June 2023.
  12. ^ "UEFA Champions League entrance music". YouTube. 29 September 2016. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  13. ^ "Behind the Music: Champions League Anthem Remix with Hans Zimmer". Electronic Arts. 12 June 2018. Archived from the original on 28 June 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2018.

External links edit