I just feel like a warrior every time I listen the Mexican National Anthem. Learn its story!
Some national anthems have been created because of actions of national unity or war; others have been composed in order to stimulate love and loyalty for the motherland. During the 19th century, it took more than 30 years of public biddings and contests before the Mexican National Anthem became a reality. In 1821, the first composition of the National Anthem was undertaken by José Torrescano, although it was never accepted institutionally or by the Mexican civil society. Eighteen years later, the Academy of San Juan de Letran invited people to submit compositions for a national anthem; 30 versions were received and two selected (one by American Andrew David Bradburn and another by the poet Félix María Escalante). Bradburn’s work was put to music by the Austrian Henry Hertz, but the anthem was not well received; another failed attempt was made by the Cuban poet, Juan MIguel Lozada and the European composer Carlos Boscha. Finally in 1853, Minister Miguel Lerdo de Tejada, on behalf of Antonio López de Santa Anna’s regime, convened a literary-musical contest “to create a really patriotic song that, adopted by the Supreme Government, be named the National Anthem,” as the invitation of 12 November 1853 proclaimed. The qualifying jury declared the most worthy composition was one entitled “Let us fly to combat, to revenge and that one who shies away, submerges in the dust his coward head front.” The author was the poet from San Luis Potosí, maestro Francisco González Bocanegra. Wikipedia relates an amusing story of how González Bocanegra came to write the lyrics:
“Francisco González Bocanegra, a talented poet, was not interested in participating in the competition. He argued that writing love poems involved very different skills from the ones required to write a national anthem. His fiancée, Guadalupe González del Pino (or Pili), had undaunted faith in her fiancé’s poetic skills and was displeased with his constant refusal to participate in spite of her constant prodding and requests from their friends. Finally she decided to take matters into her own hands. Under false pretenses, she lured him to a secluded bedroom in her parents’ house, locked him into the room, and refused to let him out until he produced an entry for the competition. Inside the room in which he was temporarily imprisoned were pictures depicting various events in Mexican history which helped to inspire his work. After four hours of fluent (albeit forced) inspiration, Francisco regained his freedom by slipping all ten verses of his creation under the door. After Francisco received approval from his fiancée and her father, he submitted the poem and won the competition by unanimous vote.” The winning melody was composed by Juan Bottesini, but it was deemed “not aesthetically pleasing,” so there was another public competition for a composition to put music to González Bocanegra’s lyrics. Fifteen musical compositions entered in the competition. One with the epigraph “God and Liberty” was chosen; the initials “J.N.” were found inside the envelope containing the composition. An announcement was published asking the author to identify himself. On 12 August 1854, the MInistry of Foment, Colonization, Industry and Trade announced that the author of the beautiful music was don Jaime Nunó, Catalan music director of military bands, who, after living in Havana, Cuba, was resident in Mexico. Finally, the lyrics and the music came together, and the composition was adopted as the National Anthem and sung for the first time on the night of September 15, 1854, at Santa Anna Theatre, which soon afterwards changed its name to the National Theatre. This first interpretation was made by an Italian opera company that visited Mexico and was directed by maestro Juan Bottesini.