«Unser Land»? / "Our Land"?
How a Melody from Switzerland became the National Anthem of Lesotho
The story of something familiar that seems alien, and of something alien that can be appropriated
«Unser Land»? tells the unusual story of a catchy melody. Composed in the early 1820s by the music teacher Ferdinand Samuel Laur, the choir piece spread from Basel around Switzerland and later to France: as a school song, a drinking song and a song to the fatherland, each with the respective different text. Around 1870 it could be found in a school book containing verses by the missionary François Coillard in the British crown colony of Basutoland. In 1967 it became the national anthem of the independent Kingdom of Lesotho with the opening line, “Lesotho, Land of our Fathers”.
The song has thus become part and parcel of the independent Kingdom of Lesotho. From various different perspectives this richly illustrated book asks why the familiar can seem alien and how something originally alien can be appropriated.
About the editors:
Matthias Schmidt (* 1966) is Professor of Recent Music History at the University of Basel.
Andreas Baumgartner (* 1981) is an academic assistant at the Musicology Seminar of the University of Basel.
Diese Wanderung einer Komposition aus der Schweiz durch Raum und Zeit hat Schmid und Baumgartner zu ihrem Forschungsprojekt inspieriert, zu einer hochinteressanten Ausstellung und einem wunderbaren Buch. (Christian Platz, Basler Zeitung, 1.10.18)