In 1972, the Council of Europe took up a suggestion by the Austrian-Japanese politician and supporter of European integration Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi to use the “Ode to Joy” from Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as the European Anthem. The song, which is considered a classical masterpiece, was Beethoven’s final symphony before his death in 1824, but the chosen passage takes the music but not the lyrics. The original version was an adaptation by the conductor Herbert von Karajan and the version now used is an arrangement by French composer Christophe Guyard, performed by the SüdWestRundfunk orchestra from Freiburg, Germany. It is played at all important events and can be heard as the flag of a new member country is raised outside the Council headquarters.
The anthem was adopted by the European Union in 1985 and is also used by other European organisations, such as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). In 2004 the Council of Europe released a CD entitled “Variations” featuring different interpretations, including Hip Hop, Trance, Techno, rock guitar, jazz violin and Big Band versions.