I am not an athlete. Any activity that involves a ball or blades is simply not for me. Every few years, though, I become an armchair athlete as I root on the Olympians gathered to represent their nations in sporting events of all kinds. One of my favorite parts of the Games is watching the medal ceremonies. I'm moved by the passion of the athletes who have dedicated so much of their life for this moment. I also enjoy hearing the national anthems of the triumphant nations.
I don't think I am in the minority when I admit that I am not very familiar with many national anthems. In addition to the American anthem, I feel confident that I could pick out the Canadian, French, English, and German anthems. Beyond that, I'm at a loss! If you are as interested in the music as I am, I may have found a website that you will also enjoy.
Nationalanthems.info contains historical information about the development of the anthems as well as mp3's and sheet music for many of the national pieces. I found myself surfing the site for quite a while, learning about the music's transformations over time.
As the Olympic Games draw near, it might be interesting to have my students compare the sounds of anthems from different parts of the world. By having them describe how the sounds of the Italian anthem differ from that of the Turkish, students begin to explore the similarities and differences between the various musics of the world.