Title: Opening Ceremony
Client: Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXI Olympiad
Size: 210mm x 266mm
“The Olympic Games will be what they were meant to be and nothing more: a quadrennial celebration of the springtime of mankind, an orderly and rhythmic springtime, whose sap nourishes the soul.”
Pierre de Coubertin
Raising of the Olympic Flag
Eight athletes, escorted by four others, enter the stadium by the northwest gate, bearing the Olympic Flag. The twelve athletes were chosen from all across Canada. The flag party proceeds to the flagpole at the southeast (scoreboard) end of the stadium, to the strains of the Olympic Anthem.
Two of the flag-bearers slowly raise the flag as a forty-voice choir sings the Olympic Anthem.
The Anthem was written by the Greek composer Spiro Samara for the first Games of the Modern Era in Athens, 1896.
Transfer of the Olympic Commemorative Flag
Symbolizing the continuity of the Olympic Spirit, the official Olympic Commemorative Flag passes from the safekeeping of the previous Olympic city to the new hosts.
The Mayor of Munich, the Mayor of Montréal and the President of the International Olympic Committee proceed to the rostrum for the transfer.
A group of dancers from Munich, the bearer of the Olympic Flag and a group of dancers from Montréal enter the stadium from the southwest side.
A group of sixteen musicians from Munich provide the accompaniment to a specially choreographed Munich-Montréal ballet based on a Bavarian folk-tune.
As the Munich dancers pass in front of the Royal Box, they perform a dance to the tune of “Stern Polka”.
At the rostrum, the Commemorative Flag is handed to the Mayor of Munich, who passes it to the President of the International Olympic Committee, who in turn passes it to the Mayor of Montréal. Finally, the flag is given to a member of the Montréal dance troupe.
The Montréal troupe then performs a dance based on traditional St. Lawrence Valley folk airs. They are accompanied by sixteen musicians and eight singers from Montréal.
The two troupes join to perform a series of dances based on Canadian and German folk tunes. They accompany the bearer of the Montréal flag as far as the northwest exit. Choreographer for the Munich group is Franz Baur-Pantoulier. Choreographer for the Montréal group is Michel Cartier.
The Olympic Flag
The original design of the Olympic Flag was first presented by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, father of the Modern Games, to the Olympic Congress of Paris in 1914.
Its motif is five interlocking rings on a white background. The five rings represent the five continents of the world and symbolize universal brotherhood.
The six colors, the white of the background and the blue, yellow, black, green and red of the rings represent the nations of the world, since every national flag in the world contains at least one of the six colors.
The Olympic Commemorative Flag, which is made of embroidered satin, dates from the 1920 Antwerp Games when it was presented by the Belgian Olympic Committee.
The flag must, in accordance with Olympic rules, reside in the principal municipal building of the host city until the next Games.
The Olympic Flame
In ancient Greece, a sacred flame was kept burning on the Altar of Zeus throughout the Olympic Games one of the traditions of the ancient Games that has been revived and perpetuated in the Modern Era.
In 1936, the Organizing Committee for the Berlin Games had the idea of lighting the flame in Olympia, Greece, from where it would be brought to Berlin by a relay of runners.
For 1976, the tradition is being continued, but with the addition of an electronic-age touch.
The Sacred Flame that will burn during the Montréal Games was first lighted at Olympia on July 13th, 1976, by focusing the sun’s rays through a lens. It was then transported to Athens in two days by a relay of 500 runners. But the next leg, from Athens to Ottawa, took only a fraction of a second. A special sensor transformed the ionized particles of the flame into coded electronic impulses which were then transmitted to Ottawa, Canada’s national capital, by satellite. The impulses were then reconverted into a laser beam from which the flame was transformed into its original form.
Once on Canadian soil, the renewed flame was again transported in the traditional fashion by a relay of 230 runners to the summit of Montréal’s Mount Royal.
This was its resting place for one night, at the foot of the cross that commemorates the safe arrival of Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve, founder of the city of Montréal.
From there, it was carried to the Olympic Stadium for today’s ceremony, where it will burn throughout the duration of the 1976 Games.
Inspiration for the music of the Montréal Olympic Games
The musical themes of the Montréal Olympic Games are based on the works of Canadian pianist-composer André Mathieu.
Mathieu’s compositions, still relatively little-known in his country of birth, were chosen for the Montréal Games not only for the richness of their themes, but for their quality of universality. His style of writing, very much of the romantic school, lends itself magnificently to the grandeur of the Olympics.
André Mathieu was an outstanding figure on the landscape of Canadian music history. An infant prodigy, he began his musical studies at the age of three, writing his first compositions at the age of four. He received a government scholarship at seven and gave his first recitals in Paris at that age. After one such concert at Salle Pleyel in Paris, one of the most eminent critics of the time wrote: “I do not yet know if young André Mathieu will become a greater musician than Mozart, but I am certain that at this age Mozart had not created anything comparable to what has been played for us here, with such extraordinary spirit, by this remarkable young boy. If the word genius has any meaning, it surely deserves to be applied to André Mathieu.”
Mathieu received similar acclaim in America when he made several tours. Among his many accolades was first prize at the 1942 International Competition for Young Composers for his “Concertino for piano and orchestra No. 2, Opus 13.” He later performed the work with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 13 years.
In all, André Mathieu composed more than 100 works, including four concertos (of which his Romantic Symphony), two concertinos, several symphonic poems, ballet music, chamber music, piano pieces, sonatas and music for trio and quintet.
André Mathieu died in 1968 at the age of 39 years.
Montréal musician, Victor Vogel, as Music Director for the 1976 Olympic Games, has drawn from the works of André Mathieu for his musical themes accompanying the Games.