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Leonard Bernstein wrote the expressive and powerful Olympic Hymn for the 1981 International Olympic Congress in Baden-Baden, West Germany. This was a significant meeting of the Congress, and expectations were high. The boycotted Moscow games were only a year prior, and the Los Angeles games were only a few years away. It seemed as though the sustainability of the Olympic Games were at stake.
Bernstein's hymn opened the Congress on September 23, with the Baden-Baden Youth Choir and the Südwestfunk Orchester, David Shallon, conducting. Speakers included Pope John Paul II, UN General Secretary Kurt Waldheim and Prince Philip of the United Kingdom. The Nobel Peace Prize winner Lord Phillip Noel-Baker was the guest of honor.
In the Hymn, Bernstein utilized material from the Finale to Act II of his 1972 musical, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, "To Make Us Proud."
Günter Kunert (b 1929), the German author wrote the text, a tribute to the values embodied in the Olympics: "Give an example that applies to all, Fight as friends, not as foes."