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Culture

Music for Every Athlete

It's a very special moment for a gold medallist when the country's flag is raised. What few people know, is that a single record label is responsible for the sound of the triumphant moment.

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Gold medallist feel like the center of the world during medal ceremonies

The show is perfect. The winner takes to the podium, receives a gold medal and watches as the national flag is raised for all to see. It's a proud moment, a patriotic moment. And the tears swell up in the champion's eyes.

For record label Naxos it's a golden moment when the Olympian's national anthem blares out of the speakers for all to hear.

The international classic label founded by Klaus Heymann, a German-born music lover based in Hong Kong, is responsible for the musical accompaniment behind every winner's ceremony. Recorded by the Slovakian Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Peter Breiner, the collection of national anthems played at the Olympics is a one-of-a-kind repertoire.

"As far as we know, it's a unique series," Wolfgang Ruso, Naxos business director in Germany told dpa wire service. In January or February, the company hopes to publish a seven-CD collection with all the world's national anthems.

The collection prepared for the Olympics, is a special production not intended for the mass market, said Ruso. It's a sort of dress rehearsal for the record label, but one TV audiences around the world can hear.

Difficult production

Recording national anthems is a difficult and tedious process for musicians. "It takes a lot of time and work," Ruso said. "Already several years ago we had published a series with nearly all the recognized national anthems," he explained, adding that before long many of the songs had changed. Political circumstances, shifting borders and independence have all left their mark on national anthems.

CD Regal im Laden

Finding a copy of every national anthem is no easy job

For Naxos, compiling such a collection means establishing contact with national embassies, ordering current musical notation for the pieces, clarifying legal rights and then adapting the anthems for symphonic interpretation by a single orchestra. "We invested quite a bit," Ruso said without giving numbers.

According to Naxos' owner Klaus Heymann, the business is doing well. Although 2003 was a slow year with CD sales dropping a million, 2004 is expected to bring growth of about 20 percent. The worldwide presence the company wins throught the Olympics is not intended to be used for advertisement -- in fact, the record label intentionally refrains from drawing attention to its musical contribution. Instead, the motto for the company is more Olympian -- "being there is everything."