San Marino joins three other countries in a unique category: countries that have national anthems with no lyrics. (The other three, incidentally, are Kosovo, Bosnia & Herzogovina, and Spain.) Because their previous anthem was so close to Italy’s, Italian composer Frederico Consolo (who studied composition under Franz Liszt no less) stepped in to fix that. He decided to take a chorale from the 10th century and rework it to become their national anthem. While there are no official lyrics per se, the composer used lyrics written by Giosuè Carducci (I swear, everyone knew this guy. I mean, I know he was awarded a Nobel Prize and all).
Although San Marino is fairly small, there are two classical composers with ties to the country. One was a composer of the late 1600s named Francesco Maria Marini da Pesaro, and the other was a 20th century composer named Cesare Franchini Tassini.
Some of San Marino’s traditional dances have been performed since the Medieval times. There really isn’t a lot of information on their dance traditions. I found a couple of YouTube videos: one showing two rows of women facing each other in a folk dance, and another of a kid doing some kind of whip dance of sorts, except there really wasn’t much dancing. There might be some others out there.
Probably one of the most famous names to come out of San Marino is Little Tony. He formed a rock group in the late 1950s along with his two brothers, calling themselves Little Tony & His Brothers (how original). They got their break in the UK where they got signed, charted, and began showing up on TV. Their music definitely has an early rock feel that was quite typical of that time period. They make use of acoustic instruments like the saxophone and horn lines. I kind of like their music. He was actually active as a musician from 1957 to 2013 when he passed away from lung cancer.
Valentina Monetta is San Marino’s tribute to the Eurovision singing contest. She’s actually participated eight times, making it into the finals in 2014. Her music is kind of a pop style. But from what I’ve listened to from several contestants in the Eurovision Song Contest over the years, they really like the pop ballad.
I also found a metal band called Necrofilia. There are several metal bands with the same name, but the one whose album Crush Test is the one from San Marino. I think their instrumentals are pretty clean with driving. But for me, one of the key factors in what I look for in the type of metal I enjoy is the vocals. I like a good melodic line, and a little bit of screaming every now and then is ok. But there has to be some kind of semblance of singing involved, and these guys have it. I am fairly impressed with them and look forward to listening to more of these guys this week.
Up next: the food