Tune of the Day: Hatikvah
The theme of “Hatikvah” (which means “The Hope”) revolves around the nearly 2000-year-old hope of the Jewish people to be a free and sovereign people in the Land of Israel, a national dream that would eventually be realized with the founding of the modern State of Israel in 1948.
The melody for the anthem derives from “La Mantovana”, a 17th-century Italian song originally written by Giuseppino del Biado. It was later known in early 17th-century Italy as “Ballo di Mantova”, and gained wide currency in Renaissance Europe. This melody was also famously used by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana in his set of symphonic poems celebrating Bohemia, Má vlast, as “Vltava” (which is also known by its German name “Die Moldau”).
The adaptation of the music for Hatikvah is believed to have been done in 1888 by Samuel Cohen, a Jewish Palestinian immigrant from Bessarabia (now Moldova). Cohen himself recalled many years later that he had adapted the melody from a Romanian folk song, possibly “Carul cu boi” (“Carriage with Oxen”), which shares a few structural elements with Hatikvah.
The tune is mostly in the minor mode, which is often perceived as mournful in tone and is therefore seldom encountered in national anthems. However, as the title “The Hope” suggests, the import of the song should be optimistic, and the overall spirit uplifting.