Marcha Real
English: Royal March
1761 sheet music

National anthem of Spain
Also known as"La Marcha Granadera" (English: "The Grenadier March")
MusicManuel de Espinosa de los Monteros, 1761; 263 years ago (1761),[1] Bartolomé Pérez Casas (orchestration, 1908), Francisco Grau (harmonization, 1997)
Adopted3 September 1770
Readopted1823, 1874, July 1942
Relinquished7 April 1822, 1873, 9 December 1931
Audio sample
Marcha Real (instrumental)

The Marcha Real (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmaɾtʃa reˈal]; lit.'Royal March') is the national anthem of Spain. It is one of only four national anthems in the world – along with those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, San Marino and Kosovo – that have no official lyrics.[2] Although many different lyrics have been made for it in the past, it has never had official lyrics as a national anthem.[3]

A 1960s rendition to La Marcha Real the National anthem of Spain.


One of the oldest in the world, the Spanish national anthem was first printed in a document dated 1761 and entitled Libro de la Ordenanza de los Toques de Pífanos y Tambores que se tocan nuevamente en la Ynfantª Española (Book of the Ordinance of Newly Played Military Fife and Drum Calls by The Spanish Infantry), by Manuel de Espinosa. There, it is entitled La Marcha Granadera (English: March of the Grenadiers). According to the document, Manuel de Espinosa de los Monteros is the composer.

There is a misconception that its author was Frederick II of Prussia, a great lover of music. That mistaken belief arose in 1861 when it was published as fact in the periodical La España militar (Military Spain). In 1864, Col. Antonio Vallecillo published the story in the diary El Espíritu Público (The Public Spirit), claiming a supposed Prussian origin for Marcha Real. According to Vallecillo, the anthem was a gift from Frederick II to the Count of Colomera, who was serving in the Prussian Court to learn the military tactics developed by Frederick II's army, under orders of King Charles III. In 1868, this spurious history was published in Los Sucesos, changing the beneficiary of the gift to the Count of Aranda. The myth was picked up in different publications of 1884 and 1903 until it was included in 1908 in the Enciclopedia Espasa.

In 1770, Charles III declared the Marcha de Granaderos the official Honor March, an act that formalized the tradition of playing it in public, especially on solemn occasions. It became the official Spanish anthem during Isabel II's reign.

In 1870, after the 1868 Revolution, General Juan Prim organized a national contest to create a new official state anthem, and a jury consisting of three well-known composers was chosen to designate a winning entry. Although over 400 compositions were submitted, including those written by the young composers Federico Chueca, Ruperto Chapí and Tomás Bretón, a new anthem was never selected. After extensive deliberations, the jury had advised that Marcha de Granaderos was already considered the country's official anthem, and the contest was suspended.[4] By Alfonso XIII's time, the Royal Circular Order of 27 August 1908 established the musical score orchestrated by Bartolomé Pérez Casas, Superior musician of the Royal Corps of Halberdier Guards, as the official version; it is known traditionally as the Grenadier March or the Royal Spanish March. During the Spanish Second Republic the Himno de Riego was adopted as the anthem of the republic.[5]

The actual symphonic version of the Marcha Real that replaced the Pérez Casas one was written by maestro Francisco Grau and is the official one after the Royal Decree of 10 October 1997, when the Kingdom of Spain bought the author rights of the Marcha Real, then belonging to Pérez Casas's heirs. According to the Royal Decree 1560/1997, it should be in the key of B-flat major and a tempo of 76 bpm (♩=76), with a form of AABB and a duration of 52 seconds.

Current version

The current official version of Marcha Real, as described in Royal Decree 1560/1997,[6] is a sixteen-bar long phrase, divided in two sections, each one is made up of four repeated bars (AABB form). Tempo is set to ♩= 76 and key to B-flat.

The long, complete version is the honors music for the King, while a shorter version without the repetitions is performed for the Princess of Asturias, the President of the Government of Spain, or during sporting events.

There are also three official arrangements: one for orchestra, another for military band, and a third for organ, written by Francisco Grau and requested by the Government of Spain. All in all, there are six different official adaptations, for each arrangement and length. They all were recorded by the Spanish National Orchestra and the Spanish Royal Guard Band as an official recording and released on compact disc for a limited period of time.

Copyright issues

As the harmonisation of Marcha Real was written by Pérez Casas in the early 20th century, the copyright has not yet expired. The government bought it from Pérez Casas' estate in 1997 for 130 million pesetas (781,315.734 euros) to avoid future legal problems.[7] Until it expires, the copyright belongs to the Ministry of Culture and collecting societies charge copyright fees, which has led to criticism.[8]

As a result, many different harmonisations have been devised by performers to avoid paying. Nonetheless, the rights to the 1997 Francisco Grau revision were transferred to the government at no charge, but they were not placed in the public domain.[9]



Though the Marcha Real has no official lyrics, words have been written and used for it in the past. One version was used during Alfonso XIII's reign and another during the Francoist State; however, none of them were ever made official. The national anthem has been played without words since 1978, when lyrics that had been approved by General Franco were abandoned.[10] Occasionally the Francoist lyrics have been erroneously performed after their abandonment.[11]

Lyrics competition

After witnessing a rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone at Anfield in 2007, the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE), Alejandro Blanco, said he felt inspired to seek lyrics to La Marcha Real ahead of Madrid's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.[12][13][14] That same year Telecinco, enticed by the COE, organized a national contest and posted 25 different lyrics on their website which they thought best matched COE's requirements. The winner was chosen, although only 40,000 people voted. The lyrics by Enrique Hernández-Luike, magazine publisher and poet, spoke of freedom, peace and the Constitution.[15] The winning lyrics were sung by the Ronda de Aranzueque choir in Pastrana, and filmed by German television.[16] However, the COE organized a new competition for the lyrics, which resulted in between 2,000 and 7,000 entries (depending on source). A private team of jurors chose the entry by Paulino Cubero, then unemployed.[17] The new lyrics received criticism, resulting in them being pulled only five days later, and the idea was scrapped indefinitely.[18]

A number of the autonomous communities of Spain have their own regional anthems.

Former lyrics

Lyrics during Alfonso XIII's reign

These lyrics were written by Eduardo Marquina (1879–1946) on the occasion of Alfonso XIII's silver wedding anniversary.[19] Still, they were never made official.[3]

La bandera de España (Coro)
Gloria, gloria, corona de la Patria,
soberana luz
que es oro en tu Pendón.
Vida, vida, futuro de la Patria,
que en tus ojos es
abierto corazón...!
Púrpura y oro: bandera inmortal;
en tus colores, juntas, carne y alma están.
Púrpura y oro: querer y lograr;
Tú eres, bandera, el signo del humano afán.

España guiadora (Solo)
¡Pide, España! ¡Tu nombre llevaremos
donde quieras tú;
que honrarlo es nuestra ley!
¡Manda, España, y unidos lucharemos,
porque vivas tú,
sin tregua pueblo y rey!
Una bandera gloriosa nos das;
¡nadie, viviendo, España, nos la arrancará!
Para que, un día, nos pueda cubrir,
¡danos, España, el gozo de morir por ti!

¡Viva España!... (Coro)
¡Viva España! Del grito de la Patria,
la explosión triunfal
abrió camino al sol;
¡Viva España! repiten veinte pueblos
y al hablar dan fe
del ánimo español...
¡Marquen arado martillo y clarín
su noble ritmo al grito de la Patria fe!
¡Guíe la mente a la mano hasta el fin,
al "Viva España" asista toda España en pie!

Flag of Spain (Chorus)
Glory, glory, crown of the Fatherland
sovereign light
which in your standard is gold.
Life, life, future of the Fatherland,
in your eyes it is
an open heart
Purple and gold: immortal flag;
in your colors, together, flesh and soul are.
Purple and gold: to want and to achieve;
You are, flag, the sign of human effort.

Spain guiding (Solo)
Ask of us, Spain! Your name we will take
anywhere you want;
because honoring it is our law!
Command us, Spain, and united we will fight,
so that you may live,
relentless people and king!
You give us a glorious flag;
Nobody, who is alive, Spain, will take it from us!
So that, one day, we can be covered by it,
Give us, Spain, the joy of dying for you!

Long live Spain! ... (Chorus)
Long live Spain! The cry of the Fatherland,
the triumphant explosion
Has opened the way to the sun;
Long live Spain! repeated twenty peoples
and when they speak they have faith
in the Spanish will ...
Mark plow hammer and bugle
your noble rhythm at the cry of the Fatherland faith!
Guide the mind and the hand until the end,
the "Long Live Spain" Spain attends all standing!

Franco-era lyrics

Lyrics were adapted from an earlier version on 1928 written by José María Pemán (1897–1981) during the reign of Alfonso XIII and the government of Miguel Primo de Rivera.[20] The changes, made by Peman himself, intended to fit the symbols of the extreme right-wing ideology of General Francisco Franco, referred to as National-Catholicism, which were the "salute with the extended right arm" and the "yoke and arrows". The yoke and arrows were the appropriated symbol of Falangism in Spain.

There were no singular official lyrics at the time,[3] though they became popular in certain contexts. In fact, the school textbook "Enciclopedia Álvarez" featured different lyrics that were taught to children.[21]

Proposed lyrics by Marta Sanchez (as of 2018)

Spanish lyrics
Vuelvo a casa, a mi amada tierra,
la que vio nacer mi corazón aquí.
Hoy te canto, para decirte cuanto orgullo hay en mí,
por eso resistí.
Crece mi amor cada vez que me voy,
pero no olvides que sin ti no sé vivir.
Rojo, amarillo, colores que brillan en mi corazón
y no pido perdón.
Grande España, a Dios le doy las gracias por nacer aquí,
honrarte hasta el fin.
Como tu hija llevaré ese honor,
llenar cada rincón con tus rayos de sol.
Y si algún día no puedo volver,
guárdame un sitio para descansar al fin.[22]

English translation
I return home, to my beloved land,
which saw the birth of a heart here.
Today I sing to you, to tell you how much pride there is in me,
that’s why I resisted.
My love grows every time I leave,
but do not forget that without you I do not know how to live.
Red, yellow, colors that shine in my heart,
and I do not apologize.
Great Spain, to God I thank you for being born here,
honoring you to the end.
As your daughter I will carry that honor,
fill each corner with your light.
And if someday I cannot go back,
save me a place to rest at last.

Interpretation and etiquette

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Military bands of the Spanish Armed Forces and the National Police Corps of Spain and civilian Marching bands and Concert bands play the B flat-major version of the anthem adapted for wind bands (as arranged by Francisco Grau), and playing the A major version is optional.

The bugle call To the Colors in Spain is the version played by Bugle bands in Spanish churches in religious occasions and processions organized by civil groups and the parishes. Various versions adapted for the drum and the bugle are used, even though brass instruments play the anthem as well. But in some bugle bands, the A flat version of the anthem (the old official one, adapted for the bugle) is played. Only a bugle call is sounded when the B flat version is played.

Being the national anthem, and played in honor of the King and the Queen of Spain, it is common for all to stand once it is played. Even though it is also played in church events, respect for the royal family is required by everyone in attendance; civilians stand at attention, and those in uniform salute when not in formation.

See also


  1. ^[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Spain – Marcha Real". Retrieved 2011-11-23.
  3. ^ a b c "Las otras letras del himno |".
  4. ^ Francisco Javier Molero Caminero (26 June 2019). Hasta aquí hemos llegado: Recopilación histórica de la vieja piel de toro (in European Spanish). Punto Rojo Libros S.L. p. 487. ISBN 978-84-17988-93-7.
  5. ^ María del Rosario Ruiz Mateos (21 October 2010). Manual de Protocolo General. Formación para el Empleo. EDITORIAL CEP. p. 81. ISBN 978-84-681-8473-9.
  6. ^ "Real Decreto 1560/1997, de 10 de octubre, por el que se regula el Himno Nacional". Boletín Oficial del Estado. 1997 (244). 11 October 1997.
  7. ^ "Real Decreto 1543/1997, de 3 de octubre, sobre adquisición por el Estado de los derechos de explotación de determinadas obras musicales y encomienda de su administración al Ministerio de Educación y Cultura". Boletín Oficial del Estado. 1997 (243). 10 October 1997.
  8. ^ "El himno da aún mucho dinero". Crónica. #604. May 27, 2007.
    "Cuando el himno es de un particular". Periodista Digital. May 27, 2007.
  9. ^ "Real Decreto 2027/1998, de 18 de septiembre, de aceptación de la cesión gratuita efectuada por el maestro don Francisco Grau Vergara de los derechos de explotación por la revisión y orquestación del Himno Nacional y atribución de la administración de tales derechos al Ministerio de Educación y Cultura". Boletín Oficial del Estado. 1998 (233). 29 September 1998.
  10. ^ Elkington, Mark (January 16, 2008). "Divisive national anthem lyrics ditched". Reuters. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  11. ^ Curtis, Joe (2019-05-08). "Italian choir mistakenly sings Franco-era national anthem to the King of Spain". City AM. Retrieved 2023-03-07.
  12. ^ Liverpool fans help inspire Spain to write words to anthem Archived 2008-02-02 at the Wayback Machine Reuters, 5 June 2007
  13. ^ Spain to add lyrics to wordless national anthem NBC News, 26 June 2007
  14. ^ "Lost for Words", The Economist, Vol 384 Number 8539.
  15. ^ "El concurso para poner letra al Himno Nacional de la web de Telecinco ya tiene ganador" (in Spanish). Diario ABC. July 18, 2007. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  16. ^ "El concurso para poner letra al Himno Nacional de la web de Telecinco ya tiene ganador" (in Spanish). La Crónica de Guadalajara. September 20, 2007. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  17. ^ "'¡Viva España! Cantemos todos juntos con distinta voz y un solo corazón'" (in Spanish). Unidad Editorial. January 11, 2008. Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  18. ^ Garrido,Héctor M. (January 16, 2008). "El himno de España vuelve a quedarse sin letra" (in Spanish). Grupo PRISA. Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  19. ^ "ABC MADRID 17-05-1927 página 3 - Archivo ABC". abc. August 5, 2019.
  20. ^ Marcha Real de España (José María Pemán). (Original text in Spanish)
  21. ^ Dramatización sobre El Florido Pensil, de Andrés Sopeña Monsalve, Barcelona, Crítica, 1994, ISBN 84-7423-673-8
  22. ^ "Así es la letra de Marta Sánchez para el himno de España". La Vanguardia. Retrieved 19 February 2018.