As the name reveals, the European Union Songbook Association was founded in Copenhagen 2015 with one aim: to organise the first The European Union Songbook in two democratic stages; first together with qualified music teachers, music students and choir singers, then through people’s song votes held in all member states.
For more than 50 years, we, the European citizens, have mostly exchanged physical things: coal, fish and other products. The cultural exchange on the other hand, has seen from above consisted mainly in sports – Champions League – and a single song contest – The Eurovision: We feel time has come to create a more lasting common symbol, a songbook.
To our regret most EU citizens see the EU as a location in Brussels or Strasbourg instead of something they and their home countries are part of themselves: Therefore to create as much inclusion and participation as possible we firmly believe that the creation of such a people’s symbol should involve all EU-populations and have no financial ties to the political establishment of the EU.
The 27 populations in our union live parallel lives without a closer or deeper cultural understanding of each other. We see no contradiction between national identies and European identity, national cultures and European culture; we see them as complements. More than anything else, European identity and culture is the exchange of national identities and cultures. With the making of the EU Songbook we wish to contribute to bringing the two, nation and union, closer together in an dynamical relation, since the concept of a union without nations is as stuck in the future as the concept of nations without a union is stuck in the past.
The EU songbook will be organized via six pan-european song categories and not per member states: These are “love”, “nature & seasons”, “freedom & peace”, “folksongs & traditionals”, “faith & spirituality” and “children’s songs”. These categories are a compromise from suggestions from 17 music academies from 14 member states. Natonal anthems are not to be included.
Even though music truly is a universal language, merely reading the sheet music for the 164 songs to be printed in the songbook is not culturally satisfactory: Therefore the verses will be printed both in their original languages (plus Luxembourgish) and in singable English translation, side by side. We have not chosen English as common language for the songbook for any cultural reasons, since all languages and cultures per definition are equal: However, we seek to unite as many people in song as possible and have chosen translation into English due to the democratic argument that it is the language most people speak. Having one version of the EU Songbook will enable users of the songbook to sing along all over the union.
After publication in May 2021 the EU Songbook will be revised and expanded, both with songs from upcoming member states and with additional categories of song, should a common wish arise.
Every year on Europe Day, May 9th, we invite all to celebrate with us the EU and its cultural diversity by arranging concerts and song events.
Let us both share and learn about the 27 national song treasures in EU, let’s sing together!