May 25th, 2013

As I’m sure you know, tonight is the final of the European real football (soccer) Champions League club competition. It’s between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and is taking place for some UEFA reason in Wembley, London. I’m rooting for Borussia, partly on general underdog grounds – Dortmund is a gritty Ruhr rustbelt city, without Munich’s glamour or whiffy history -, partly because they knocked out my home team Malaga. It’s always a consolation to lose to the champ.

The anthem of the competition is a surprisingly successful 30-year-old piece of skilled hackwork by British composer Tony Britten (h/t Sam Borden of the NYT/IHT).

Here it is at the start of an earlier game between Borussia and Barcelona:

Since you can’t hear it very well against the generic crowd noise, here’s the anthem performed by a proper orchestra and choir:

If it sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Britten reworked Handel’s magnificent anthem Zadok the Priest. It’s known in Britain as the Coronation Anthem, and here it is at Westminster Abbey on Maundy Thursday.

Great art lives because people want to steal and reuse it. Museum shops not monographs are where collections reenter the culture. If I were famous, I’d like my monument to rip off Francois Roubiliac’s sparkling tribute to Handel – fat dumpy German guy and immortal musician – in Westminster Abbey:
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 08: A statue of composer George Frideric Handel sits above Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey on April 8, 2009 in London. Handel, who died 250 years ago this Tuesday the 14th April, 1759, will be remembered in a special concert at the Abbey where he is buried. Handel's fame was so great at the time of his death that his funeral at the Abbey attracted a crowd of 3000 mourners. He wrote his celebrated Coronation Anthems for the crowning of George II in 1727. Zadok the Priest, the most famous of the anthems, has been sung at every coronation since.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

8 Responses to “Zadok the Champ”

  1. dave harris says:

    James, it’at Wembley because this year marks the 150th anniversary of the FA, the oldest one going, not to mentio it the fact that the game was codified in England.

    • dave harris says:

      And please excuse the typos above, FF for android doesn’t like this comment form very much

    • James Wimberley says:

      Which justifies making 50,000 German fans travel to London?
      The top seven clubs in European competition over 25 years all come from just four countries, England, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Optioning a stadium in all four countries for the end of May (when the national leagues are over) would more or less guarantee that at least one body of fans would stay in their own country.

  2. ferd says:

    Never heard of the Champions League, or its club competition. True. Sorry. Heh.

    • Mitch Guthman says:

      On what planet do you live? This is a big deal for a lot of the world and especially Europeans. Not World Cup big. But big nonetheless.

    • toby says:

      The Champions League Final is Europe’s Superbowl, the culmination of the most prestigious football (soccer to you) club competition in the world (with respect to Latin American’s Copa Del Oro).

      It is one of those few European events that actually transcends national boundaries (i.e. it is beamed across Europe and the World for football enthusiasts) and has a massive TV audience – given watchers in Japan, Africa, South America and China, it must have a bigger TV audience than the Superbowl.

  3. rachelrachel says:

    Tony is no relation to the more famous Benjamin Britten, I take it?

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