17 February 2007

On the occasion yesterday of the 65th birthday of Dear Leader Kim Jong-il

...Generalissimo guiding light of Songun, strategist. Under the perfect leadership of Dear Leader brilliant statesman and invincible military commander, the Korean people vow... Bugger it! here is a Performance of The Song of General Kim Jong Il by the Merited Choir of the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Korean People's Army, live at Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang in 2003.

The words are, apparently, as follows:

Mt. Paektu reaches across
To shape our beautiful land.
Cheers resound all over the land,
Hailing our dear General.
He's the leader of the people,
Carrying forward the Sun's cause.
Long live, long live, General Kim Jong Il.

All blossoms on this earth
Tell of his love, broad and warm.
Blue East and West Seas sing
His exploits in their song.
He is the artist of great joy,
Glorifying the garden of Juche.
Long live, long live, General Kim Jong Il.

Socialist cause he defends
With iron will and courage.
He raises national honour
Far and wide throughout the world.
He is the champion of justice,
Standing for independence.
Long live, long live, General Kim Jong Il

I'll never criticise the National Anthem again! The UK has its faults but I am glad I live here than under a lunatic regime like that in the DPRK


Bryan said...

Criticize "G-d Save The Queen"? Have you heard the "Star Spangled Banner" with a tune from an old English drinking song? It will destroy the voice of anyone without a trained voice and an extended range.

I wonder if George Walker Bush rhymes with General Kim Jong Il in Korean?

jams o donnell said...

Luckily few people ever go beyond the first verse of God Save the Queen and nobody sings the version of the final verse which has the words "and with an onward rush, rebellious Scots to crush"

There is a tale that the tune is based on Dieu sauve le roi a hymn written to wish King Louis XIV (or XV) a good recovery from Roid surgery... I must look that up. It is almost certainly apocryphal but it is an amusing tale!

Steve Bates said...

jams, I can't speak for that story... it seems unlikely; the tune is in no way uniquely French, and I know the French music of that period fairly well, having performed a lot of it... but there is, indeed, a piece by Marin Marais, who played viole (viola da gamba) in Louis XIV's court, a piece titled in English "The Gall Bladder Operation."

This early example of program music even has a narrator, describing the process of the King's operation... quite a horrible experience in those days... stage by stage. The gamba part even imitates the patient's scream near the end. There follows a cheerful movement titled something like "The Recovery."

I actually performed this piece once, accompanying Robert Wayne Moss (now of Colonial Williamsburg, the last I heard of him), to an audience at the Festival-Institute at Round Top (in central Texas). One could hardly hear the performance for the laughter, which was fine, because we could scarcely perform it for laughing ourselves. King Louis must have laughed, too, as there is no record of Marin Marais' summary execution.

jams o donnell said...

THe piece was attributed to a guy called Lully (I think - I neeed to look that up) but it is widely viewed as apocryphal.. Still the idea that our naional anthem is based on pile surgery does amuse!

Wow Steve that sounds like an wonderful and funny piece. I am a total philistine when it comes to classical music. For me a good song starts with ONETWOTHREEFOUR! or GABBABABBAHEY!

Steve Bates said...

jams, sorry to be so late in getting back to this post.

Jean-Baptiste Lully was the head honcho over all the music at Louis XIV's court. Well, "head honcho" was not his title, but he composed and conducted many of the opera-ballets in which the king himself danced, huge productions that combined the drama of opera with interludes of formal dancing.

Well, enough context-setting. "God Save the Queen," by any other name, was composed by Lully about as likely as "Surfin' Safari" was composed by your beloved Robyn. Unless Lully was consciously imitating... and mocking... an English style, he simply didn't compose that piece. My ears tell me that God Save the Queen is from a later period, and to me, it sounds most distinctly English.

This Wikipedia article points to Percy Scholes' article in The Oxford Companion, but frankly, many of his speculations strike me as a lot of (John) Bull. Nonetheless, Scholes undertakes to debunk the tale, "widely believed in France," that Lully composed it.

No mention is made of an occasion for its alleged composition in the French tale. But if I may suggest, perhaps this is the source of the confusion: "Lully's music, my arse," King Louis is NOT thought to have said. :)

jams o donnell said...

Thanks for this Steve. It is very informative...being a philistine I could not have worked out the distinction between French and English music of the eaqrly 18th at all.

Still it was a good story and it amused me to think the anthem originated from arse usrgery!