June 24, 1880 marked the anniversary of the first time “O Canada” was ever sung. One hundred years later, on July 1, 1980, it was adopted as Canada’s official national anthem. The music was composed by Calixa Lavallée, and its English lyrics have changed a few times over the years.
But there has been some controversy over the origins of Lavallée’s O Canada. Namely its striking resemblance to Mozart’s March of the Priests from The Magic Flute.
Lavallée: O Canada
Mozart: March of the Priests
After comparing the two, it seems we owe just as much to Herr Mozart as we do to Mr. Lavallée for our nation’s anthem.
Accusations of plagiarism aside, it is actually quite common for national anthems to be inspired by other music. For example, the melody of the American national anthem originated from an old British drinking song called “To Anacreon In Heaven.”
Plagiarism or just creative borrowing? You be the judge.
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