By Dan Morrison
Guillermo (Wilhelm) Frick's 1864 work, Himno a Antonio Orelie I, Rei de Araucania i Patagonia, is identified by many as the national anthem of the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia. Nothing, however, could be farther from the truth. The Himno is, in fact, a burlesque in which Frick lampoons and ridicules Orelie-Antoine and the Mapuche Indians. Calling the Himno the national anthem of Araucania is like calling Yankee Doodle, a song of derision sung by British troops during the American revolution, the national anthem of the United States.
Frick was born in Berlin on July 15, 1815. His father worked for the Royal Court of Justice and his mother was a member of the Prussian aristocracy. With the intention of following his father in the legal profession, Frick took a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Bonn in 1834.
Shortly after taking his degree, Frick's parents died and he gave up his career in law to re-enter the university to study physics, chemistry and engineering. While at the university, he also mastered English and Spanish, in preparation for his departure to the New World in September 1839.
In 1840, he arrived in Valparaiso with the intention of finding work in the mines. Finally, in 1842, he settled in Valdivia, where he was employed as the city engineer and was responsible for many public works in that growing city.
Frick was both a polymath and a man of action. While in Valdivia, he organized a musical society. He conducted and published geological and agricultural research. In 1894, he published his research on airplane designs. He invented bombs to extinguish fires and foot pontoons for people to cross rivers. And, in addition to all these things, he found time to compose music, including the Himno.
Existing Copies of the Himno
I have had the opportunity to closely examine two sets of photocopies of two examples of an edition of the Himno published around 1900. One of these sets of photocopies was provided to me by Prince Philippe d'Araucanie and the other by a music librarian at the Universidad Austral de Chile in Valdivia. Markings on the photocopies indicate that the photocopies are of two distinct originals.
Each set of photocopies consists of seven pages. The first page simply bears the words "Himno a Orelie" in an elaborate font. The second page is a "Vorbemerkung," or "Prologue," written in German, which I translate below. Page three is a reproduction of what seems to be the original cover page of the sheet music -- published in 1864. It bears a cartoonish portrait of Orelie-Antoine in profile and the words:
Antonio Orelie I,
Rei de Araucania I Patagonia
Below that is written, in Spanish, "Orelie is seated at the foot of a canelo tree on an improvised throne of guanaco skins. When the curtains rise, some Indians hurry to form a semicircle around the throne." Below that text are nine measure of music. Pages three through seven are the music.
So what are these seven pages? Apparently, they are a section of a multi-volume compilation of music called Musica Valdiviana published by Frick around 1900. We can deduce the date of publication from the prologue Frick writes for the Himno, in which he refers to the publication of the work - which took place in 1864 - as having happened "36 years ago." And we learn of the Musica Valdiviana from Fernando Guarda Geywitz, in his 1953 work, Historia de Valdivia 1552-1952. Guarda writes: "We are familiar with the volumes of his [Frick's] Musica Valdiviana in which in interesting prologues he tells the experiences of his adventurous life. . ."
Unfortunately, I have neither found any reference besides Guarda's to the
Musica Valdiviana, nor have I found of a copy of the work in any library. It
should also be noted that a very aggressive search of music libraries
world-wide has yielded only two copies of the Himno, and both of them are later
reprints of the work. An example of the 1864 sheet music edition would
certainly be a rare and interesting item. The Himno: Opera, Anthem or
So, just what is the Himno, if not a national anthem? It looks like a single work from an opera or a musical comedy. Frick offers stage directions for dancing. The lyrics are in Mapudungun. And the music is scored for piano, violins and an undetermined number of voices.
While it appears that the Himno is just one part of a musical comedy, the other parts are nowhere to be found. Frick himself does not refer to an opera in his prologue, but he does call the Himno a "scene." Guarda writes: "Frick organized and mounted a grand comic opera in which he satirized and ridiculed Prince Orelie-Antoine I, King of Araucania, whose colorful activities caused a sensation at the time and whose sudden return to France caused the rehearsals to be suspended in deference to the nation that, although unwittingly, seemed to support the foreign pretender's ambitions."
It is possible that Frick wrote - or intended to write -- a full opera about Orelie-Antoine and that only the Himno was actually published, the remainder either never being finished, or, if finished, lost forever.
In his Prologue, Frick writes, "Before the dance, Orelie was to give a moving speech in Spanish. I could not find, however, a fitting text and had to satisfy myself with the anthem or homage (whatever you want to call it)." Clearly Frick intended the Himno to be part of a larger whole. Whether or not that whole was simple a more elaborate scene or a full-blown opera is hard to know.
The Himno deserves further musicological research not because the piece is important qua music, but because of the historical situation of the piece. First, it is written about the founder of the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia, and second it is written by a very interesting Chilean immigrant.
Prologue to the Himno a Antonio Orelie I
By Guillermo Frick
Translated by Dan Morrison
It was only 36 years ago that Valdivia found itself in a terrible turmoil. It could no longer be doubted that as the year 1864 unfolded a rebellion of both wild and tame Indians, and 2,000 Frenchmen, under the leadership of their King Orelie, would take place.
And, as often happens, fear gives birth to humor.
A scene, in which the Indians honor their King Indian-style, with song and dance, must have been delightful. As dialogue was necessary for this scene, and as I could not ask any of my acquaintances to write such a dialogue, I decided to follow the example of my friend Dr. Aquinas Ried, and make one up myself. I borrowed an Araucanian grammar book and dictionary (the one with the spelling by Father Feeble), and concocted a text through my own effort.
To make sense of the composition, and just in case someone wants to stage this scene, I provide here the text with German spelling and translations as follows:
Mapuntsche leg konangasing (The Indians are exceedingly brave.) mapuntsche tscheletu-ing (The Indians sing as they mount their horses.) kai tempo dangu-ing (And sing beautifully.) kai kaementa-ing tschu-kin netschutun languem-tschen (And live happily by stealing, robbing and murdering.)
The lines of the stomping and dancing barefoot Indians are spoken in turn (only a few at a time), until the last three notes when they all join in.
After the men have shown off their dancing, they turn, together with the women, toward the king and take off their hats or put their hands to their foreheads.
A fata Orelie! (Oh great Orelie!) Tschingen mapuntsche (Lord of the Indians.) Gutting imi langeno gagag (You are famous without equal.) Orelie nji fla leg malyea aitia mari aifinj malauba pruaing (Orelie, to your honor fifty pretty girls will dance the Malambo.) Melgen muelepun nelschaleftun neval meulepen uetsclaeftun (Girls come quickly to dance around the canelo, come here quickly to dance around the canelo.)
Tsche-uple (Where?) Falschiple (Here!) Tajepal! (There!) Furiple (Yonder!)
Untje ple rupalpunwalj ple (Throughout the whole night.) Malepunta (Come by here.) ncul willepumla netschaleftun (Come here quickly to dance around the canelo.) The urge to dance makes those who sing "pruaing" hop to the beat of the music.
Before the dance, Orelie was to give a moving speech in Spanish. I could not find, however, a fitting text and had to satisfy myself with the hymn or musical salute (whatever you want to call it). I then concluded that our singers, ladies as well as gentlemen, were ready to learn their lines and appear in costume on stage. The music for piano and violin (we didn't have an orchestra at that time) and also for the choir were already written. The rehearsals began but the piece was never performed. On the eighth of August, I wrote to my friend Ried,
"My Orelie has turned into a fiasco. That is to say, the concern that Orelie would come and be upset by the silliness has caused several of the players to explain that they would no longer be willing to perform. So we gave it up, which was, in fact, fine with me. I am certainly far from thinking that Prince Tounens or King Orelie is so childish as to hold this silliness against us, especially since he would also get a laugh out of it. It did seem frivolous, however, to make light of such a serious situation, especially since the news had just arrived in San Jose of the deployment of French naval battalions, which was mentioned in a telegram in the Belgian Independence on July 14. These factors combined to make it all believable.
"The French ships will be here, coincidentally(!!) since Orelie needs the protection of his King.
"I wish it were also coincidental (!) that an English Minister were here. I fear their memo is too late."
In case the messages from Ried to the Chilean Intendant and Minister and to the Argentine diplomat Sarmiento as well as those from my friend Carassco Albano to President Mitre in Buenos Aires, would not be sufficient to free us from our desperate situation, I repeated in all my letters since October 22, 1863 the urgent plea that Reid, who still wouldn't believe, would use his far-reaching English contacts to make the English government aware of Orelie's doings. In my long letter of the May 22-23, 1864, I made a last attempt.
When need becomes greater, help comes nearer.
On May 31, Reid answered:
"I have finally managed to get an English minister to allow me to give him a memorandum in which I analyzed all the assumptions, processes and plans of this gang. This will go to England, and, while it may do no good, it will do no harm."
If, as I mentioned before, I expressed concern on August 8, 1864 that the memo might have been too late, my fear was well-founded.
In my letter of May 22, about the recently arrived news, I wrote to Ried.
"Everyone in Valparaiso is busy translating a letter from an Englishman which just arrived by steamboat. The letter indicates that Orelie is on his way with three ships and 1,500-2000 fully armed men. Now, no one can laugh about my fears. One finally believed me and are beginning to blame others - the Intendant, the Government, etc. That's the way things always go." Only much later, in October, we received a letter from Orelie, published in the Patria of Valparaiso which made public the certainty that we had nothing to fear.
Peace returned to Valparaiso, but no effort was made to return my Orelie to the stage.