Did Haydn Steal a Croatian Folk Song for the German National Anthem?

City tours vary in quality depending on two main factors in my opinion - the things to see and the skill of the tour guide. One can have the most fascinating city on the planet ruined by a dull tour guide merely spouting out dates of construction and the like.

And then there is Mislac Pavosevic from the Tourist Board of Osijek in north-eastern Croatia, close to the borders of Serbia and Hungary. I had told Mislav that I would prefer to see the city through his eyes, rather than looking at monuments and memorising dates, and despite the rain, he managed to engage his audience more than any other guide I have had in the last few years. A valuable addition to the tourist board for sure, and I will shortly have a more comprehensive report on our day in Osijek on my Touristar TV blog.  

We had many laughs during our tour, and I teased him about the number of monuments in his city, and how he had not explained them all to us. As it happened, we were just walking past one of a guy called Franjo Kuhac.

"Ah, this guy IS interesting. Did you know that the German national anthem had its origins in Croatian folk music?"

I laughed. Here we go again, a tour guide proudly boasting something about his city which could not possibly be true.

"Yeah, right."

He pulled out his phone, pressed a few buttons and beckoned me nearer to listen, first to the German national anthem, and then to a second, earlier Croatian folk song. Listen to the first ten seconds - sound familiar?

I asked around my Croatian friends, but nobody had heard of this connection, even though there is (just a little) information on the Internet, even in English. Our man Franjo Kuhac was a "researcher who first propounded the view that Haydn's music abounds in Croatian folk tunes was the Croatian ethnologist Franjo Kuhač, who gathered a great number of Croatian tunes in field work. Kuhač's views, published in Croatian in his Josip Haydn i hrvatske narodne popievke (Zagreb, 1880) were made better known in English speaking countries by the musicologist Henry Hadow, in his book A Croatian Composer (1897) and in various editions of the prestigious Grove Dictionary)." Click here for more.

So there we go, but with one footnote. When Croatia were knocked out of the World Cup in Brazil this summer, Mislav and his friends consoled themselves that they would probably be listening to a Croatian song in the final... 


Last modified onMonday, 08 December 2014 11:03
Paul Bradbury

About Paul Bradbury

Author of Lebanese Nuns Don't SkiLavender, Dormice and a Donkey Named Mercedes and the Hvar's first comprehensive guidebook, Hvar: An Insider's Guide to Croatia's Premier Island, I have lived in Dalmatia full time since 2003 and run various tourism information websites about Hvar, Split and Zagora, and am co-author of Split: An Insider's Guide with Mila Hvilshoj.

I also have various blogging clients, including the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board, Restaurant Gariful, Hvar Adventure, Villas Hvar and Andro Tomic Wines, and print clients include Qatar Airways inflight magazine, Out! magazine from New York, and Croatian Hotspots. 

I also provide website content services, including Agroturizam Pharos, Toto's Restaurant, European Coastal Airlines, Restaurant Gariful and Divota Aparthotel. Please contact me if you would like help with your website content.

I also write for Google News via Digital Journal - see my range of articles here

Ongoing writing projects:

A History of Hajduk Split, co-author with Frane Grgurevic

Around the World in 80 Disasters

Total Hvar in the Media:

Interview of the Month, Croatian Embassy in Washington (May 2013)

Special Feature in Globus Magazine (May 2013)

Featured on Croatian TV show, More (2012) - watch the report here

4-page special in Nedjelji Jutarnji, Croatia's leading paper (August 2014)

Interviews in Slobodna Dalmacija, Dalmacijanews, Radio Split

I am available for writing services. Please contact me on [email protected] 

Other websites:

Total Hvar - 

Total Split -

Total Inland Dalamtia - 

Login to post comments