On November 27, 1974, the Barça was heard for the first time / PHOTO: FCB ARCHIVE

On November 27, 1974, the Barça was heard for the first time / PHOTO: FCB ARCHIVE

When the club was celebrating its 75th anniversary, president Agustí Montal decided it was time to write a new anthem to replace the one used to inaugurate the Camp Nou in 1957. With lyrics by Jaume Picas and Josep Maria Espinàs and music by Manuel Valls Gorina, ‘Cant del Barça’ was an immediate success. Its immediate popularity was boosted by an amazing debut performance at the Camp Nou on a day in which the proclamation of the Catalan identity was very present.

Solemn beginning

The day was organised in tribute to the club members as a prelude to a friendly between Barça and the East German national team. But the most important event turned out to be the solemn debut performance of the ‘Cant del Barça’ by 3,500 voices impeccably conducted by maestro Oriol Martorell of the Sant Jordi Choir.

The event was broadcast live throughout Spain on national TV. That evening of November 27, singers from no fewer than 78 choral groups in Catalonia gathered on the field to produce a perfect rendition of the new song. It was the culmination of an extraordinary set that also included performances of ‘Cant de la Senyera’, ‘El rossinyol’, ‘L’hereu Riera’ and ‘Al vent’, the legendary Raimon song that until then had been banned from television.

Daring repertoire

That was like scoring a goal against the strictly controlled national broadcaster, and there was more to come with the first performance ever at the Camp Nou of the ‘Cant de la Senyera’ (‘Song of the Catalan Flag’), which the Franco regime had banned for many years since it had been taken up as an unofficial Catalan national anthem, given the absolute prohibition of the official one, ‘Els Segadors’.

The delegate of the Armed Police was in the stadium, and warned the civil governor of Barcelona, Rodolfo Martín Villa, that they were listening to a separatist song. Martín Villa was horrified to learn this and demanded an explanation from Agustí Montal, who was sat at his side in the presidential box. Montal, coolly replied that “it’s only the anthem of the Catalan Choral Society”, and denied that it had any political undertones. Martín Villa seemed happy enough with the answer, although it was really only a half-truth. But that was not the end of it. At half-time in the Barça v GDR match, to the tune of the couplet La Principal de la Bisbal, 800 dancers performed ‘La Santa Espina’, a ‘sardana’ (typical Catalan dance) was performed, and which was also banned by the Franco regime.

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