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Ticino MPs seek Swiss anthem in schools

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Ticino MPs seek Swiss anthem in schools
Photo: AFP
09:46 CEST+02:00
Students in Ticino schools should be required to learn the Swiss national anthem, the Italian-speaking canton's parliament decided on Monday.

A majority of MPs thought the idea was sound, following years of demands for the patriotic instruction.

Up to now, school music teachers have been able to decide for themselves whether they want to adopt it in the curriculum.

Back in 2008, the Swiss People’s Party (UDC) filed a motion calling for it be a mandatory part of instruction in primary and secondary schools.

At the time the party noted that the canton of Aargau already made such a decision.

The Ticino parliament finally decided to accept the requirement, with 48 MPs voting in favour, 22 against and five abstaining, the ATS news agency reported.

In so doing the parliament went against a parliamentary commission that advised against making the anthem required study.

But supporters said that the anthem, sometimes known as the “Swiss Psalm” or the “Swiss Hymn”, is an important symbol of the cohesion of the country.

The Ticino cabinet, however, has already opposed the move, ATS reported.

Among its concerns is the fact that not all schools offered music instruction.

“Everyone should decide in their own way how to express their patriotism,” Sergio Savoia, head of the Green party, was quoted as saying by ATS.

Versions of the Swiss national anthem have been translated into Switzerland’s four official languages —German, French, Italian and Romansh.

But the anthem, which was only officially adopted in 1981, remains less than universally known.

The song was originally set to German words written by Zurich journalist Leonhard Widmer more than 170 years ago.

The music was composed by Alberik Zwyssig, a priest from the canton of Uri, and was first performed back in 1841.

For a long time, however, it was overshadowed by another patriotic song — Rufst Du mein Vaterland — used on official occasions with the same music as God Save the Queen.

This reportedly led to confusing moments when the Swiss were honouring visits from British representatives.

To listen to a version of the Swiss national anthem in Italian, click here.

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