Music: Hymn of the Nations

If Benito Mussolini had dialed in on NBC's short wave lengths last week, he might have heard Italy's greatest conductor direct some uncomfortably prophetic music by Italy's greatest composer. On Arturo Toscanini's Sunday afternoon broadcast, the Westminster Choir boomed cheerfully (in Italian) these words from Giuseppe Verdi's Hymn of the Nations:

Hail, England, Mistress of the Seas,

Hail emblem of liberty,

Oh France, who shed your blood for a land enslaved,


Oh, Italy betrayed*

May merciful heaven watch over you,

Until that day when free again,

You stand upright in the sun.

Verdi wrote it for an international shindig in London in 1862, when part of Italy...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!