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This kiss for all the world!
         -- from the lyrics of the Ode to Joy

FINALLY, after a two month detour caused by technical problems, we come to the FINALE, the fourth movement, of Beethoven's Symphony #9.  For those that missed the first three installments on the first three movements, you can catch up with them HERE, HERE, and HERE.

At the top, I've assembled a number of pictures of kisses.  Jane Goodall kissing a chimp.  Leonardo DaVinci's kissing cherubs.  The kissing couple of the Montreal riots.  A mother kissing her baby.  A Byzantine Madonna kissing baby Jesus.  Princess Leia kissing Han Solo.  And, of course, Life Magazine's Pulitzer winning Times Square VE Day Kiss.  That one in particular seems most appropriate to this diary.

If you've followed this series, you know how the Ninth Symphony begins: In pain.  Born out of cruelty.  If music without words can convey such things, the picture it offered of the human condition was not in a pleasant light.  One musicologist compared the first movement to rape.  

Here, in the last movement, we get "A kiss for all the world."  The organic unity of this symphony, borne out by godawfully intricate interweaving of small pieces, is made complete in the final movement which turns the first movement on its head.  The VE day kiss is a kiss of triumph.

Breaking News: Beethoven Still Deaf!

You know, this is the twelfth diary I've written about music by Beethoven.  Did I forget to mention that Beethoven was deaf?  Oh, I forgot to mention that part.  If you didn't know, well... surprise!  

Beethoven's hearing aids.

There are a number of theories about how he lost his hearing.  He began to lose it early in his career, but its onset was gradual.  By the time of his seventh symphony, in 1812, it was all gone.  By the time of the ninth symphony, 1822, he had been cut off from the world of sound for many years.  Everything he heard, he heard with his mind and his imagination.

A scene from the film Immortal Beloved(1994) starring Gary Oldman as Beethoven.  This was based on a true incident.  Beethoven performs his own Emperor Concerto, and things go awry.  (Ignore the Russian translator, please.  I'll upload a better version later.)

His deafness and the way he overcame this in his music is probably the most romantic aspect of Beethoven's life, and we focus on it too much, perhaps.  By the time we get to the Ninth Symphony, his last symphony, Beethoven had endured.  It had affected his music.  There was both a deeper level of intellectual thought and casual willingness to blow off convention.

A clip from another film, Copying Beethoven(2006) starring Ed Harris and the oh-God-so-lovely Diane Kruger.  Beethoven "conducts" (with assistance) the first performance of the Ninth Symphony to a cheering crowd.  A crowd whose cheers he can't hear.  An orchestra whose music he can't hear.  He can only hear the music in his head.  That was where it was born and where it stayed.

A couple of notes about this clip.  The camerawork visibly shakes at times.  That's based on a historical fact: the hall rented for the first performance, the Carinthian Gate theater in Vienna, wasn't sturdy enough to accomadate the enormous orchestral forces that the symphony required.  The hall actually trembled.  Even though he was deaf, we can be sure Beethoven FELT the music!

That first performance was an enormous public success for Beethoven.  The musical world, though, had a difficult time processing what Beethoven had unleashed.

The great romantic composer Hector Berlioz (who we might have a diary on some day) was in attendance.  I've quoted him elsewhere in this diary.  About the music world's difficult assessment of the Ninth Symphony, he had this to say:

Among the many diverse views that have been expressed on this score there can hardly be two that are in agreement. Some critics regard it as a monstrous insanity; others can only see in it the fading glimmers of a dying genius; more cautiously a few declare they find it at the moment completely unintelligible, but do not despair of achieving at least an approximate understanding of it later; the majority of artistically minded people regard it as an extraordinary conception, though some of its parts nevertheless remain unexplained or without apparent purpose. A small number of musicians who are temperamentally inclined to examine carefully anything that might enlarge the realm of art, and who have thought deeply about the general layout of the Choral symphony after studying the score and listening to it attentively on several occasions, assert that this work seems to them the most magnificent expression of Beethoven’s genius: we believe we have said at some earlier point that this is the opinion we share.
The music of this, his late period, is more intellectually complex and creative than the passionate music of his earlier periods.  It's more challenging.  This is not the bunny slope of classical music.  In contrast, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, the first movement, is usually used for introductory high school and junior college music appreciation courses.  Not so much the Ninth.  This is music that is great for a first listening, but the pieces only really begin to fit together after many listenings.  That's one reason I hope this diary series has been useful.

Fitting the pieces together.

In the first diary on the Ninth, I made a Spoilers Clip that showed how the key piece in the puzzle of this symphony was used, the motif made from the six notes: EA-AE-EA that recurs throughout the work in various guises.

A reasonable question to ask is this:  "Is it necessary to indulge in that level of analysis just to enjoy the Ninth Symphony?  Can't we just let it wash over us, enjoy the sensations and the feelings."  

Yes, of course you can do that!  And the first time you hear it, that's what you have to do.  But oh, would this be the masterpiece contribution to the heritage of the human race that the Ninth is if that's all it was?  The ninth doesn't require repeated listenings to enjoy, but it bears up to repeated listenings because it reveals its secrets slowly through the interconnected parts.  Various pieces start to sound familiar to you.  "Hey..." you go.  "That sounds familiar somehow.  Didn't I hear that part somewhere else before?"  And then it clicks, and you go, "Ahhhhhh..."

This level of interconnectedness didn't begin with the Ninth Symphony, nor with Beethoven.  But it was Beethoven's thang from early on.

Do you all remember the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata, one of his early works?  Of course.  You might have it as a ringtone!  Everybody knows the Moonlight Sonata first movement.  But... how about the final movement?  Probably not.  Listen to this for a moment and tell me if it sounds familiar:

Moonlight Sonata, Opus 27, final movement, by Beethoven, performed by Glenn Gould

Now, does that sound familiar?  If not, back up and listen again.  It's that familiar theme of the first movement, the one you have as your ringtone.  It has been sped up to Warp 10, the rhythm has changed from three beats to four.  Out of that building block, Beethoven forges a brand new piece of music, not sober and placid, but demonic.  Anxious and troubled.  

So this kind of thematic interconnectedness is part of the Beethoven listening game.  In making my Spoilers clip, I focused on the very first six notes of the symphony and tracked it.  That's actually very easy to do.  It seems Beethoven wasn't trying to be very sneaky with it.  It shows up very obviously at all the key dramatic moments.

Because of that, in my first diary, I said that the Ninth has both foreshadowing and backshadowing.  The EA-AE-EA motif is the backshadowing to the first movement.  But what about the foreshadowing?

The Ode to Joy has been there with us, in more hidden, ambiguous forms, since the first movement.  

I struggled with how to present this part.  I tried to make another spoilers clip, but I realized it wasn't obvious enough.  I try to adhere to a (flexible) "no music notation" rule so I can keep these diaries at or close to the Music-for-Dummies level.  But I think it helps to look at the actual music notes just to get a visual graphical feel for what Beethoven is doing.  I made a dumbed down (VERY dumbed down) transcription of some of the forms that the Ode takes in the earlier movements.  All of the pro musicians may commence laughing at me.  

I don't want you to READ or PLAY the music.  I just want you to look at the SHAPE.  The second one from the top is the basic Ode to Joy theme as we hear it in the finale.  Oh Dumbo, you ruined it.  You left out this and that...  Forget it.  I just care about the shape here.

Now compare that to the third line in the graphic, which is my (very dumbed down) version of the second theme of the first movement.   Don't read it.  Don't whistle it.  Just look at the shape.  Different, but similar.

Compare the Ode (second line) to the fourth line, which is my (very dumbed down) version of the opening of the second movement.  It's a little sneakier, but the pattern is still there.  

Now, compare the Ode to the first line, which is my (very dumbed down) version of the melody that is continually repeated in the middle section of the second movement.  Much closer.

I didn't bother trying to do this with the third movement.  This is all just proof of concept.  

There are other types of linkage in the Ninth as well.  I've spent most of my energy in this series focusing on the EA-AE-EA.  Robert Greenberg in his lectured series, which I listened to to prep for this diary, sees the symphony as a battle between two different keys -- D major/minor, and B flat major, a running battle that continues throughout all four movements, with B flat major playing a good-guy role.  

That's too sophisticated for me, because I can't tell one key from another unless you play them back to back.  I'm a mere mortal.  I'm not a musician, and certainly not one with perfect pitch.  I'm like a baseball fan that can tell you everything about Sandy Koufax and the 65 Dodgers, because he loved watching Sandy Koufax, but can't throw a ball to save his life.

That's all I ever want to share with you in these diaries.  When I post musical scores, as above (very dumbed down music), my ambition is not to impress you with how much I know or to make you think like a musician, but to share my enthusiasm and love for the music itself.

The Lyrics: The Ode to Joy by Friedrich Schiller

And now we come to the lyrics.  To be frank, I almost always ignore the lyrics in classical music.  In fact, I hate classical music with English lyrics.  It bugs me because I feel like I have to listen to the words, and I HATE THAT.  I much prefer hearing gobbledy-gobbledy sounds in German or Italian so I can focus on the music itself.  But that's just me.  I'm usually content to know what the lyrics ARE ABOUT so that I can focus on the music.

Beethoven set his sights on setting Friedrich Schiller's Ode to Joy to music some thirty years before he finished the Ninth.  In the finished version, he omits most of the words to the original poem which you can read here.  Many of the original poem verses refer to drinking, making this a drinking song.  For example:

Brothers, fly from your seats,
When the full rummer is going around,
Let the foam gush up to heaven*:
This glass to the good spirit.
Other verses are more political in tone.  For instance:
Resolve and courage for great suffering,
Help there, where innocence weeps,
Eternally may last all sworn Oaths,
Truth towards friend and enemy,
Men's pride before Kings' thrones--
Brothers, even it if meant our Life and blood,
Give the crowns to those who earn them,
Defeat to the pack of liars!
... And there we see some of what may have originally appealed to Beethoven about the Ode.  Beethoven hated "crowns," as we have amply documented, haven't we?

Add to it, this as well.  The street word at the time was that Schiller, who was a revered but still often censored poet, had intended the poem to be the Ode to Freedom (Ode an die Freiheit), not Ode to Joy (Ode an die Freude).  Actually, the lyrics work very well either way.  At the fall of the Berlin Wall, Leonard Bernstein performed the Ninth substituting Freiheit.  Was that closer to Beethoven's intent?  Bernstein admitted he could not claim that.  We do know, however, that after Schiller (and Beethoven's) death, Schiller's life-long secretary publicly stated that the original poem was meant to be an Ode to Freedom.  

Beethoven, Schiller, and the Illuminati

I love having any excuse to write about the Illuminati.  Thank you, Beethoven, for giving me one!  If you've never heard of the Illuminati, you don't know enough crazy people!  You obviously never heard of the John Birch Society, which was worried sick that the Illuminati was plotting to take over the world and set up a godless left-wing New World Order.  It's all out there on the Internet if you want to get your hands dirty.  If you have the stomach, TRY THIS for a sample.

However, there really WAS an Illuminati, the Bavarian Illuminati founded in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt, a more radical secret society offshoot of the Freemasons.  Slate Magazine tries, somewhat creatively, to connect the dots.

Founded in 1776 by a Bavarian professor named Adam Weishaupt, the Illuminati joined radical politics and Jesuit-style hierarchy to fanatical secrecy. The aims of the order were ambitious, all right: They intended to change the world and had a plan to do it. The means were not to be by violent revolutions. The idea was to form a cadre of enlightened men who would steathlily infiltrate governments everywhere and slowly bring them to a kind of secular-humanist Elysium under the guidance of a secret ruling body. Said Adam Weishaupt: "Princes and nations shall disappear from the face of the earth peacefully, mankind shall become one family, and the world shall become a haven of reasonable people. Morality shall achieve this transformation, alone and imperceptibly."

... In practice, the Illuminati amounted to a kind of activist left wing of the Freemasons, from whom they drew most of their members. The numbers were never large, but they included people like Goethe (briefly) and Christian Koerner, a close friend and confidant of Friedrich Schiller. Koerner's influence seems to be why some Illuminati-tinged ideas—universal brotherhood and the triumph of happiness bringing humanity to Elysium—turned up in Schiller's famous poem Ode to Joy, which was often set to music and sung in Masonic and Illuminati circles. The poem would later enter history via the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

As an Illuminatus, an important part of Christian Neefe's duty was to covertly inculcate promising young people in the ideals of the order, then to recruit them when they came of age. Beethoven was as promising as young people get. So did Neefe inculcate this student? Surely he did. Was Beethoven recruited to the order? No—the Illuminati dissolved in 1785, when he was 14. There is also a question as to how inculcatable Beethoven was by anybody. Even in his teens, he was so fixed on his own tack that he only intermittently took notice of the rest of the world.

Not only Neefe, but then and later most of Beethoven's other friends and mentors and patrons were ex-Illuminati or Freemasons. Did those influences have an impact on his life and art? Among many other things, certainly. By the time Beethoven left Bonn, he was already planning to set Schiller's Ode to music, and he had a good idea what that poem was about, from its humanistic surface to its Masonic and Illuminati depths.

The Organization of the Ninth's Final Movement

There is much esoteric debate about this.  Wikipedia takes the position that the finale is a self-contained movement mini-symphony within the larger symphony.  I'm going to buck that and describe it more simply, though, as a Variations-on-a-Theme movement (the theme being the Ode to Joy), the variations grouped into about six chapters of changing moods.  

Usually, Beethoven's movements have simple Italian tempo labels at the top of the page, like Allegro con Brio ("Fast and with Spirit").  The ninth's final movement is labeled -- get ready: Finale: Presto—Recitativo—Allegro assai—Allegro assai vivace Alla Marcia — Andante maestoso — Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato — Allegro ma non troppo — Prestissimo.

Prestissimo, for the very conclusion, means "Extremely fast, the fastest possible tempo."  It's INSANE fast.  Faster than rabbits on a hot date!  (God bless Youtube).

There are performances of the Ninth (e.g., Furtwangler's, examples here) that take the conclusion so fast it sounds like a jumbled car pile-up.  This is unrestrained music.

Go to the music, Dumbo!

So let's go to the music!  I will label the sections (as I define them -- you can break it up however you like;  you've just as much authority to do that as anybody) as I go.  I chose to go with a video of Leonard Bernstein today.  Enjoy the histrionics of our much beloved conductor!  They are as much a part of the show as the music.

Beethoven Symphony #9 in D minor, Opus 125, final movement, "The Ode to Joy", performed by Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic.

1. The Recitativo section.  (0:00 to 7:48)

This is a long section of about nine minutes before the first human voice ever makes its appearance.  It begins with a violent and very dissonant chord, one which Richard Wagner later dubbed the Schreckensfanfare, the "Fanfare of Terror."  

Just this alone, this opening chord, by itself, became a controversy.  Berlioz's reaction to it was precious.

The first chord is again built on an F which is supposed to carry the third and the sixth and does indeed do so, but this time the composer not content with the appogiatura of B flat adds those of G, E and C sharp, with the result that ALL THE NOTES OF THE MINOR DIATONIC SCALE are played at once and produce the hideous assembly of notes: F, A, C sharp, E, G, B flat, D.
This is a seven note diatonic chord.  Pray tell, what does that mean Dumbo?  That sounds complicated!  A seven note diatonic chord is as if you laid your arms down on the white keys of a piano.  That's not a chord!  That's a police department choke-hold!  Future composers would eventually use more advanced types of dissonance, but for this time, this was brutal.  So the final movement begins with what is, essentially -- a bitchslap.

Enough about the first 11 seconds.  At 0:11 comes the recitativo.  Pray tell, what does recitative mean, Dumbo?  Do you remember what it sounded like when Charlie Brown's teacher spoke to him in It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?  It was a trumpet making a wonka-wonka-wonka sound mimicking the patterns of speech.  In older-style operas, recitativo was the dorky half-singing, half-speaking style of accompaniment that let the actors move the story along to set up the next musical number.  

In this case, Beethoven uses the bass strings as speaking voices, mimicking the patterns of speech.  Whatever they are trying to say, we can tell that it's a wordless howl of outrage of some kind.

This recitativo is interesting in other ways as well.  Parts of it sound familiar somehow.  Hmmm...  And certainly, if you dwell on it -- and you don't have to be a musician to hear this, although you're more likely to only notice it after many listenings -- you can identify little familiar bits and pieces that sound like the coming Ode to Joy theme.  And that's what Beethoven has done.  The recitativo is built like a ransom note from chopped up pieces of the Ode theme.  

At 0:58 comes Beethoven's own synopsis of the symphony up to this point.  Nobody had ever done anything quite this weird.  The orchestra replays small parts of each of the first three movements, each time interrupted by the angry voices of the basses, as if they REJECT this.  They will no longer tolerate this!  Each is offered in turn and each rejected.  (Notice that the sweet theme from the third movement gets the more gentle rejection at 2:12).

Then a worrying tone comes to the voice of the basses.  "What are we going to do about all this?"  It's almost despairing!

That's when the Ode theme makes its first tentative appearance at 2:59.  It doesn't even get to finish.  The bass strings interrupt rather joyfully as if to say, "Yeah!  That's what we need!"  It croons its approval.  

At 3:50 the basses themselves takes up the the Ode theme, stating it in full for the first time without any other accompaniment, their deep thrumming sounding very much like a man humming a tune to himself.

Quite a little drama!  

With the end of the "humming" recitativo, the rest of the orchestra takes up the melody, at first cautiously and calmly.  But more and more instruments join in until it turns into whirling frenzy of the full orchestra.

We are ready for the introduction of the first human voices.

2. Human voices Sing the Ode to Joy. (7:48 to 11:33)

We've had to break this series up into four parts because the symphony is so oversized and complex.  In a live concert, though, note that, up until this point, you would have been listening to the symphony for about a whole hour.  During that whole time, most of the people on stage -- the soloists and the chorus -- haven't uttered a peep!  The first audience to hear the Ninth must have wondered, what the hell are those people doing there, anyway?  Ah!  Beethoven has saved them for last, building up the tension for this moment.  They are his heavy artillery.  In a live performance, there is a certain electricity as many dozens, maybe hundreds (or even fifteen thousand in some performances) of choral singers stand up and make rustling noises as they straighten their belts, adjust their glasses, and check their sheet music.

Again, we hear the terror fanfare.  But now, rather than the howl of outrage coming from the bass strings, we hear the orchestra fall away so a single human baritone voice can take control and belt out the words:

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere
anstimmen, und freudenvollere!

"Oh friends, not these sounds!  Let us raise our voices in more joyful song!"

So we finally have the translation of what the bass strings had been trying to say.  It really was rejecting the sounds of the previous movements.  There it is, in German.  The singer rejects them and insists on something new.

As I noticed in a previous diary, the street word at the time was that Schiller intended the Ode to Joy (An die Freude) to be the Ode to Freedom (An die Freheit) but that was politically too risky for the poet.

And now we get the Ode theme.  

    Freude, schöner Götterfunken
    Tochter aus Elysium,
    Wir betreten feuertrunken,
    Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!

    Joy, beautiful spark of the gods
    Daughter from Elysium,
    We enter, drunk with fire,
    Heavenly one, your sanctuary!

Elysium!  According to Google:

    The place at the ends of the earth to which certain favored heroes were conveyed by the gods after death.
    A place or state of perfect happiness.
   Deine Zauber binden wieder
    Was die Mode streng geteilt;
    Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
    Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

    Your magic reunites
    What custom strictly divided.
    All men become brothers,
    Where your gentle wing rests.

    Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
    Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;
    Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
    Mische seinen Jubel ein!

    Whoever has had the great fortune
    To be a friend's friend,
    Whoever has won a devoted wife,
    Join in our jubilation!

    Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
    Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
    Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle
    Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!

    Indeed, whoever can call even one soul
    His own on this earth!
    And whoever was never able to, must creep
    Tearfully away from this band!

    Freude trinken alle Wesen
    An den Brüsten der Natur;
    Alle Guten, alle Bösen
    Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.

    Joy all creatures drink
    At the breasts of nature;
    All good, all bad
    Follow her trail of roses.

    Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
    Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
    Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
    Und der Cherub steht vor Gott.
    Vor Gott!

    Kisses she gave us, and wine,
    A friend, proved in death;
    Pleasure was given to the worm,
    And the cherub stands before God.
    Before God!

And with the words, Vor Gott, the Ode theme reaches a mini-climax, one that ends with a stunning change of key.  Does that sudden chord change sound a little familiar to you?  It should.  It's the same one that "opened a great chasm before us" near the end of the third movement.  Yes, that has returned.

3. The Turkish March (11:33 to )

Just when the ode theme reaches its climax... the music abruptly stops!  We hear a quacking noise from the bassoon.  Then another.  Cymbals join in.  A perky little march theme begins.  This too, is the Ode to Joy theme, but transformed.  A tenor joins in with the words:

    Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
    Durch des Himmels prächt'gen Plan,
    Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
    Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.

    Glad, as His suns fly
    Through the Heaven's glorious design,
    Run, brothers, your path,
    Joyful, as a hero to victory.

... And through repeated chants of Freude! from the chorus, the Turkish march works its way towards yet another mini-climax.  One that segues into...

4. The Fugue (13:16)

The voices drop out and leave everything to the orchestra which works itself into a many-layered fugue based on  parts of the Turkish March theme.

This is the third of three fugures in the symphony, and it is the most powerful, perhaps the single most powerful moment in the symphony.  This is probably the best fugue Beethoven ever composed.  As it works its way forward, it becomes not just anxious but pained.  Frustrated!  As the fugue reaches its frenzied peak, it slams headfirst into a wall.  (at 14:32).

That wall it smashes into is... the EA-AE-EA theme of my spoilers clip!  The EA-AE-EA motif makes its most dramatic appearance.

Oh what now?  Listen as the woodwinds try to resume the Ode theme.  A few notes.  Da da DAH da?  There's a question mark in the sound.  The EA-AE-EA motif is still there, but it's fading.  It tries again.  DA da DAH da?  Like a groundhog peaking its head out.  "Is it safe to come out yet?"  And then it decides, oh YES, it is!

At 14:59, not cowed anymore, it emerges, and the Ode makes its boldest, and most triumphant appearance, the last time in its pure form, with full orchestra and choir.  Surely this is when the orchestra hall shook Beethoven!

We have here a triumph of sorts -- triumph of the Ode theme over whatever the EA-AE-EA motif represents.

5. This Kiss for All the World! (15:46)

The music abruptly stops yet again, setting up a seam in the music.  The tempo changes, and after the frenzy of the preceding part, the temperature seems to have cooled quite a bit.  A brand new theme emerges with baritones singing the following lyrics.  (And notice how similar the new Kiss theme is to the EA-AE-EA) theme.

    Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
    Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
    Brüder, über'm Sternenzelt
    Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen.

    Be embraced, you millions!
    This kiss for all whole world!
    Brothers, above the starry canopy
    Must a loving Father dwell.

At 17:30, the tone becomes darker, somewhat humbled and religious in a minor key.  The only question in the Ode is asked.  

    Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
    Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
    Such' ihn über'm Sternenzelt!
    Über Sternen muss er wohnen.

    Do you bow down, millions?
    Do you sense a Creator, world?
    Seek Him beyond the starry canopy!
    Beyond the stars must He dwell.

And at 18:36 my favorite part of the Ode, perhaps because I've listened to it so many times that the other parts have lost some of their charm.  I almost excerpted just this half a minute to make it stand out alone.  The music becomes mystical in tone, the orchestra and choir shaping itself around a tonally vague figure, a diminished seventh chord.  It's ghostly.

But as it ends, we have reached another seam in the music.

6. The Ode theme and the Kiss themes merge. (19:56 )

As the music emerges from this sober mystical interlude, the tone returns to that of unrestrained joy.  A complicated variation ensues.  The more angular Kiss for All the World theme overlaps and combines with the Ode to Joy theme in different ways.  

The rest of the words in the movement are just repetitions of the previous words but with new music, so I have no need to post anymore translations.

Another variation at 22:10, based on the two themes merged, sung by soloists.  Incredible intertwining of the voices here, a dense tapestry.

7. The Coda (24:56)

The music speeds up dramatically, as we enter the final stretch.  The drums really get to let loose here.  At 26:01, it sounds wistful, almost worn out by the whole  experience.

At 26:14, it's Prestissimo to the end, cymbals and drums banging their hearts out.  Bravo!  Take a bow, Leonard.


... And with that, we come to the end of the 2011 DailyKos Beethoven Festival, some... um... three months into 2012.  Well, I can check this off my bucket list now.  "Analyzed the Beethoven Symphony Nine for people smarter than me in public and got away with it without humiliating myself TOO much.  Check."  The only thing left is having sex with identical twin cheerleaders.  In zero-gravity.

I need to thank everybody who helped out keeping Thursday Classical Music alive while I've been busy exorcising demons.  That includes Lone1c, Cartoon Peril, Pico, and Zenbassoon.  Thank you.  Things could have been a lot lonelier around here.

Next week:  I'm not going to commit to a subject yet, but it will be lighter, and not Beethoven.  And we might have a submission from somebody else depending on the timing.  But I'm leaning towards a diary about Fred and Ginger and the black and white Hollywood dance musicals.  And other diaries with music by Sibelius, Rimsky-Korsakov, Dvorak, Mendelssohn, and Ravel in the offing.

Originally posted to Dumbo on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 09:33 PM PST.

Also republished by DKOMA, An Ear for Music, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting side note: (14+ / 0-)

    Beethoven changed Schiller on one point, which a lot of people have tried to read into:


    Your magic reunites
    What custom's sword divided.
    Beggers become brothers to princes
    Where your gentle wing rests.


    Your magic reunites
    What custom strictly divided.
    All men become brothers,
    Where your gentle wing rests.

    Thoughts about that?

    Great diary and analysis, as usual!

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 10:07:08 PM PST

    •  I wasn't aware of that! (9+ / 0-)

      And I didn't even comment on the particular line of All men become brothers, which is probably the one most often quoted.  Alles menschen werde bruder.  That's interesting.

      I think Beethoven was setting out with great deliberation to forge his own Mount Rushmore or Pyramids with this symphony, some kind of monument on the order of The Seven Wonders of the World.  He did a damn good job of pulling it off, if that was his intention.  I say that even though Beethoven isn't my favorite composer, nor is this my favorite Beethoven work.  It deserves due credit for being a monument to mankind, an example of gigantism and artistic ambition at its most successful.  

      It's in that light that I would interpret his word choices, the parts that he inserted and the parts he left out.

    •  If I Remember Right..... (8+ / 0-)

      There's a theory that Schiller originally titled the poem  “Ode an die Freiheit" ("Ode to Freedom"), but for political reasons he replaced the word "freedom" with "joy" (Freude).

      Schiller’s original poem “An die Freude” of 1785 shows his close allegiance to pre-revolutionary French ideas, particularly in the verses “beggars become the brothers of princes” (Bettler werden Fürstenbrüder) in the first stanza, and the demand for “rescue from tyrants’ chains” (Rettung von Tyrannenketten) in the final stanza. The triad of the French Revolution, liberté—égalité—fraternité, is clearly discernible in these lines. In this sense, it is very well possible to talk of the expression of a political concept of freedom in Schiller’s poem, which is closely wedded to the central theme of joy.

      Although the poem became one of Schiller’s most popular creations and was set to music well over forty times, Schiller was evidently unhappy with it: when editing an anthology of his poetry in 1803, he was reluctant to include “An die Freude,” and eventually decided to revise it. In this new version, perplexingly, Schiller removed all obvious references to the ideals of the French Revolution. It was precisely the lines cited above that fell prey to his revision: “beggars become the brothers of princes” became the much less radical—though more universal—“all humans become brothers,” while the last stanza promoting freedom from tyranny was simply deleted altogether. In his correspondence Schiller expressed unhappiness with the sentiments of the poem because he had become disillusioned with the consequences of the French Revolution...

      Although we know that Beethoven was familiar with both versions, it is this revised version of the poem that he used for his “Ode an die Freude.” But what do Schiller’s changes imply? Can we still think of Freude as a code word for Freiheit, even though all references to it had been carefully removed in the 1803 version.

      (Source, pdf)

    •  Not sure (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, Dumbo, SherwoodB

      I read German, and I specifically remember the "Alle Menschen werden Brueder" (sorry, no Umlaut on this keyboard) line from the Schiller poem "An die Freude". There's no other way to translate that but "All men become brothers", which is the line you reference as being Beethoven's. So I'm confused.

      Also, I've never seen this referred to in German as "Ode an die Freude". The poem, or at least the version in my book of German poetry, is entitled "An die Freude", which simply means "To Joy".

      Again, I'm not sure and I've no background in music so I can't speak to what Beethoven rendered. And my background in German poetry is a bit rusty to put it mildly. If we have a German literature professor in the crowd, he or she should feel free to set me straight.

      The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

      by Korkenzieher on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 09:31:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think Rimjob answered the first question above: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dumbo, Korkenzieher

        I had the timeline mixed up, and was comparing two versions of Schiller instead of one Schiller and one Beethoven:

        Was die Mode streng geteilt,
        (1785 version: Was der Mode Schwert getheilt.)
        Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
        (1785 version: Bettler werden Fürstenbrüder.)
        To the second part: I don't know about the German poetic tradition, but it's not uncommon for generic markers to be left off in titles, so everyone would have understood "To Joy" to be an ode without including "ode" in the title.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:16:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! (9+ / 0-)

    It took me a while to read much work on your part and so interesting!

    I love Mendelssohn.  :)

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 10:08:31 PM PST

  •  Excellent diary (8+ / 0-)

    I learned a great deal reading and following along with this music.  Thank you for spending the time to share your extensive knowledge.  I'm one of those people who took music lessons long ago and haven't learned anything about music ever since.  Thanks for writing this.

    Do not go gentle into that good night. Blog, blog against the dying of the light. CathiefromCanada

    by CathiefromCanada on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 10:23:04 PM PST

  •  A quacking nose? (8+ / 0-)

    I'll have you know that my nose never quacked once when I played the bassoon in the 9th. ;D

    Thanks so very much, I tried to read all of these and thought I had missed the Ode glad I hadn't.

    "What profit a man, if he gain the world, but has to pay taxes on it?" Paul 8:36

    From the Gospel of St. Ron Paul in the Teachings and Misunderstandings of the Words of Adam Smith

    by ontheleftcoast on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 10:26:03 PM PST

  •  Superb! (11+ / 0-)

    Just freakin' superb!

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:43:16 PM PST

    •  I remember once long ago, going down my driveway (6+ / 0-)

      early in the morning, turning on my car radio and getting into the midst of the 4th movement.  What an adrenaline surge!  

      All I could think was how goddam PROUD I am to be a member of the human species.

      Made my day.

      Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. By the morning of 9/12/2001 the people of NYC had won the War on Terror.

      by triplepoint on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 03:28:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, MT Spaces, SherwoodB

    Great work on your part! Beethoven is my favorite composer, (ignorant Philistine that I am...)

    -5.12, -5.23

    We are men of action; lies do not become us.

    by ER Doc on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 12:03:23 AM PST

    •  What's philistine about that? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MT Spaces, ER Doc, SherwoodB

      I'm the philistine.  

      I think I burn out on Beethoven's music more quickly than I do pieces by some other composers because there's something so insistent about it on being RESPECTED.  That starts to grate after a while.  That's what I like about Mozart, which some people probably see as Philistine.  Mozart's music doesn't insist that you take him too seriously, right here, right NOW.  It's easier to live with.  Beethoven's music is oftentimes like a high-maintenance wife nagging, "Why don't you pay attention to me when I'm talking!"

  •  Freudenvollere! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, MT Spaces, stevenwag, SherwoodB

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 12:09:58 AM PST

  •  Dumbo, it's NOT just you: (5+ / 0-)
    And now we come to the lyrics.  To be frank, I almost always ignore the lyrics in classical music.  In fact, I hate classical music with English lyrics.  It bugs me because I feel like I have to listen to the words, and I HATE THAT.  I much prefer hearing gobbledy-gobbledy sounds in German or Italian so I can focus on the music itself.  But that's just me.  I'm usually content to know what the lyrics ARE ABOUT so that I can focus on the music.
    I can't listen to Ode to Joy without hearing the lyrics...I had to play it (in a very simplified version) when I first took piano lessons in elementary school.

    I think I will always hate that number, just b/c it will always remind me of piano lessons -- which aren't necessarily bad, I liked a bunch of stuff I played...but I hated that version of Ode to Joy.

    But my hatred of lyrics goes WAY beyond OTJ.  I don't like all that vibrato in opera, so naturally I hate almost all opera.  (Die Fleidemaus is okay.)  I don't much care for lyrics in contemporary pop music, either.

    I call him Rick Scumtorum because he IS scum: pond scum, with the brain of an alga.

    by Youffraita on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 12:31:38 AM PST

    •  I used to hate classical operatic singing as well. (6+ / 0-)

      I think it was probably Mahler that changed that for me.  Now, when I listen to classical singing, I hear the voice as an instrument.  And for that purpose, the words just get in the way.

      A couple of weeks, Chris in Paris at AmericaBlog posted some music clips of the French 60s singer Frances Gall.  I loved it, probably even more because I couldn't understand what they were singing.  And that wasn't operatic!  He had a cover of Gall's song Poupee de Cire which I fell in love with.  He explained what the lyrics meant, and I thought, I really don't give a shit about any of that.

      Here it is.  

      I need to download some more Arcade Fire music.  That was fun.

  •  It may be late ... (3+ / 0-)

    ... but THIS is great!

    What a finish.

    The economy didn't just crash under a Republican president, it crashed under Republican policies. It crashed with low taxes.

    by MT Spaces on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 01:49:41 AM PST

  •  "Quacking bassoons"? Hmph. If you follow along, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    you get to hear the wonderful contrabassoon bass line--especially as it makes the shifts between the two keys of that section--B flat and E flat.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 05:21:34 AM PST

  •  The most GORGEOUS part of that opening (5+ / 0-)

    where we hear the Ode theme fully is in the second full iteration--the one after the basses and cellos.  The bassoon countermelody.  There's NOTHING like it before or after in the entire symphony.  It's like he had this melody in his head he wanted to use and he gave it to the bassoon.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 05:23:30 AM PST

  •  I've mentioned this before--the very end (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, SherwoodB

    of the symphony is the "Fate" theme of the 5th.  Only transformed into the "Final Cadence" form of V-V-V-I

    The only ending Beethoven ever got "right".

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 05:25:01 AM PST

  •  Truly an excellent, and useful, series. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exterris, Dumbo

    I was also afraid I had missed your analysis of the OTJ, and very glad to find it on my screen this afternoon.

    I had the great privilege to sing the Ode as part of a performance of the complete Ninth while at College -- a full orchestra, a masterly conductor, professional soloists, and some 65 or 70 singers in the chorus.  

    It still makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck when I think of it.  And I feel I am part of musical history.

    Now, if the bandwidth here will only allow me to listen to the whole performance without interruption.  (I am visiting in Southern Africa, and...)

    "Y'know what intelligent people call someone who runs around saying NO to everything all the time? A three-year-old who needs a nap." BiPM

    by stevenwag on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 05:40:42 AM PST

  •  My Favorite Piece (6+ / 0-)

    ...possibly tied with Mozart's Requiem.  Depends on which I'm listening to.  As far as I'm concerned, the Ninth is better than the Iliad and the Bible put together.

    I've been in the chorus a number of times, and I've come up with a little schema for the symphony:

    1st movement: The world, with its endless problems, calls to the individual soul.  "Look at what's happening! Get up and join the fight!"

    2nd movment: The soul reacts with some trepidation, and moments of exhilaration, but doesn't do anything.

    3rd movement: At first, the soul tries to retreat into a pastoral reverie of love: just peace out and ignore it all, baby.  Can't we get along?  But there are two moments (and I don't know the musical terms to describe them), where the horns and strings suddenly announce a challenge: ""  This happens twice.  (The soul's deeper conscience, is waking up and wants to get moving.)  The first time, the strings fade back to their earlier, higher-pitched chords.  The reverie remains in place, but disturbed.  The second string-and-horn challege comes, and this time the soul answers yes to itself.  The chords deepen, the movement ends, and we're set up for the combat of the fourth.

    4th movement: Alarum in the camp, and the army musters.  The general--the bass--then addresses the troops and announces the theme.  They march out.  Later the herald, the tenor, prancing out in front with the banner, leads the way.  The secene shifts, as if we were listening to distant battle sounds, and then the music erupts as if the army is marching through the thick of the battle.  Later, the sopranos come floating with their chorus, like the valkyries.  And when the piece rushes to its conclusion, just before the final, unison "Freude, schone..." the strings descend like fluttering dove's wings: the dove of joy: on the entire audience.

    The fourth movement is the most physically image-rich I know if in all music.

    •  That's a great schema. (3+ / 0-)

      I would differ on the interpretation of the first movement.  Beethoven was quite able at making "fighting" music, as the Fifth Symphony first movement demonstrated quite well.  He liked fighters, not losers.

      But the first movement of the Ninth ends in TRAGIC defeat.  To me, it sounds, at the end, as if the violins are shrieking in hellish agony, as the basses play out that descending chromatic bass line.  It's defeat, and it's very cruel.  

      And this all the better sets up the contrast with the eventual finale.

      And speaking of that ba-ba-BAH motif in the third movement...  That's the central enigma of that movement.  I've always felt that it was a wake-up call.  It really doesn't belong there, has no place in the movement, from a strict Mozart/Haydn formalist point of view.  It is shocking, breaking us out of the trance provided by the floating dreamy music that comes before.  A moral challenge sounds about right.

      And notice too how the chord change for that second ba-ba-BAH returns in the finale.  At about 11:23, before the Turkish March.

  •  clap clap clap (5+ / 0-)

    Speaking as a musician and a composer of music, Dumbo, you did an excellent job.  The only part that a musician could add to the analysis of the 9th symphony is that major and relative minor, diminished and augmented relationships within music have a mathematical shape to them that resembles geometry.

    Speaking as a member of the traditional society which has its roots in the 17th century known as the Fraternity of the Rose and Gold Cross (Fraternitatis Rosae et Aureae Crucis) I assure you that the Illuminati did not disband. ;)

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 06:10:29 AM PST

  •  I can't express how much I love Ode to Joy. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, jack 1966, SherwoodB

    The way it makes me feel when the full choir kicks in at the end. I never have been able to express it. Running to it is about the best way I can think of celebrating its genius so it's on my Ipod for just that purpose.

    Thanks for this diary today. Beautifully done.

    I can just about forgive the Brits for starting our revolutionary war and burning DC to the ground during the war of 1812 for giving us Led Zeppelin.

    by Pager on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 07:58:37 AM PST

  •  Absolute favorite... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, SherwoodB

    Thank you for your presentation of this piece of music.  It has long been one of my most favorite.  The first time I heard it live, it gave me chills.  And Immortal Beloved... what a wonderful movie and spectacular sound track.  Kudos to you.

  •  Bravo! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, SherwoodB

    Great diary.

    Seattle Symphony performs The Ninth every year (and this year, Cascade Symphony will perform it as well) and every year I go.  Every year I think: this is the greatest work of musical genius in the history of western music.

    Very personal bias, I admit, won't argue with anyone, but I don't walk out of Benaroya Hall, I float.  

    And I attend numerous symphonies and operas every year.  The Ninth is special.

    •  But Schwarz... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Last year's Seattle 9th was a snoozer, sorry to disagree. Thank God Gerard Schwarz is finally phasing out. I can hardly wait for Ludovic Morlot this year - the ticket order is in...

      Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?

      by UncleDavid on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:13:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •   Bravissimo! Tipped and Rec'd & Thank you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mentatmark, Dumbo

    “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius

    by LamontCranston on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 09:12:42 AM PST

  •  There is a reason Sid Meier chose this piece (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for his "We Love the King Day" theme music in the game Civilization. Listening to it, one can't think of a better selection.

    Just your average every day Autistic hillbilly/biker/activist/union steward with an engineering degree.

    by Mentatmark on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 09:14:11 AM PST

  •  I like many flavors of music (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Opera, not  so much. But every time I listen to the 9th, I end up in tears of joy. Absolutely magnificent. Never fails.

    Ludwig van just totally rocks!

    I AM the Chosen One, according to my emails, so listen up!

    by numi on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 09:22:25 AM PST

  •  the fugue is one of the most impressive (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    musical "breaks" I've ever heard.  This is truly a monumental piece of classical music.  It took me about three listens to really start to "get it".  That's why I have a rule - listen to a piece at least three times before discarding it.

    Great diary!

  •  time to listen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for the excellent read!  It's now time to go upstairs to my old von Karajan CD, with the score in my hands, and disappear into the joy (or freedom) for a while.  (P.S.  Perfect pitch isn't always the gift it's made out to be.)

  •  The ecstasy of B major (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, Dumbo, Steveningen, helpImdrowning

    You may not have a great sense of key (the D/B-flat comment), but for me the moment in the last movement when the music suddenly shifts into B major is the most ecstatic of all. In fact, I often have to FOCUS on the preceding hour-plus because I can hardly wait for it; sometimes it feels like the moment that everything else is striving for. The forces seem to slip through a space-time warp, stop, look around, and say "what the hell are we doing HERE?". And the four soloists intertwine in ecstacy in B major, a very remote tonality from the D/B-flat we have been swimming in for 80 minutes, and to me a pure glimpse of heaven (even more other-wordly than the "gates of heaven" moment in Mahler's 4th, where the key change is similar). We're in a completely different place, as though shaking off the earthbound, uttely human previous music. It's still the words of the poem that we have previously heard, of course.

    That's actually a very difficult moment to pull off. The four soloists need to sound like a single angel with four voices, submerging their own idiosyncrasies (which happens too rarely with pros these days). They have to sing the notes purely pitched, or it's a mess. There are some wonderful inner details, like when the alto and tenor wander around hand-in-hand for a while and need to be in perfect rhythmic and tonal synchronization. When it's done well, I'm in a place I never want to leave.

    But they lead us oh-so-gently and even reluctantly back to the main story, and the triumphant ending.

    Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?

    by UncleDavid on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:10:39 AM PST

  •  And the timpani... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, helpImdrowning, SherwoodB

    As a timpanist/percussionist, I have to say that the Ninth is the most physically demanding thing I've ever played (not just the solos in the scherzo's; those are just plain nerve-racking). More than the Rite, more than the Symphonic Metamorphoses. There is so much to do, it's so loud, and using my super-hard mallets for authenticity adds to the need to concentrate on rhythm and tone. I was exhausted and dripping with sweat at the end. Usually we can get away without too much effort; hitting a drum is a lot less demanding than blowing a horn.

    But I'm really glad I got to do it - only once in my life, but bucket-list status.

    Thanks, Dumbo, for the series.

    Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?

    by UncleDavid on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:18:30 AM PST

  •  Thank you! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, SherwoodB

    This is fascinating.  I've listened to this for 40 years and you've pointed out things I hadn't noticed before.

    But regardless of enhanced intellectual appreciation, the most important thing to me is that after all these years and hundreds of time I've heard this, it still affects me the way it did when I first heard it:  this is the music the angels will sing at the second coming!

    "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

    by RenMin on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:35:18 AM PST

  •  Question -- interested in others' thoughts? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, SherwoodB

    Sometimes I think this is the single greatest manifestation of genius that a human being has ever created.  (Of course, with the usual caveats about Western culture, widely-known, etc.)

    What do you think?

    "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

    by RenMin on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:48:33 AM PST

    •  That's a good question. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      helpImdrowning, SherwoodB

      It's somewhere at the top of the list, certainly.

      The thing is... I think Beethoven INTENDED it to be at the top of the list.  As I commented to Pico above, this was Beethoven's attempt at creating a humanist monument, on the order of Mount Rushmore or the Great Pyramid of Geza.

      It's not that surprising that it intimidated the hell out of the romantic 19th century composers such that many of them just gave up on the symphony as a form and sought to explore other genres of form that Beethoven hadn't monument-alized out of their reach.  There were many great symphonies during the 19th century following Beethoven's Ninth, but the list of great Romantic composers that didn't even bother is significant.  Wagner, for one, said there was just no point, and that opera was the only future left after the Ninth.

      I imagine the other pyramid builders felt the same after the Great Pyramid of Geza.  

      "Hey, let's build our own pyramid!"  

      "Dude, have you ever SEEN the Great Pyramid of Geza."  

      "No... OH SHIT!  Look at the size of that mother!  I see what you mean.  Okay, let's build a Parthenon instead."

    •  maybe Mendelssohn's Octet, too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      helpImdrowning, Dumbo

      He was only 16 when he wrote it, but B was old like me and deaf when he imagined the 9th.  So if there's a tie, it goes to Beethoven.
      Gosh, it's so grand to know others care about this, too!  What did I do before DK?

      •  no, not old (0+ / 0-)

        Beethoven died of arsenic poisoning at the ripe old age of 54.  As someone who is 52 1/2 i assure you, i am not 'old.'  he was just coming into his powers.  he also was not 'shocking the Romantics' - he set the entire stage for the Romantic period.  He was of the late Classical period, a student of Mozart and Salieri, and he and Schubert were the forerunners of what became the first wave of the Romantics.  Beethoven was on his deathbed when he was brought a manuscript of Schubert's little-known-outside-Vienna scores, and his comment, only two months before his death is "He is doing God's work."  But Schubert was to die only months later, which threw the New Germans, who were looking to the twin titans of their new music to lead them (and to teach them) into such despair that it was 1828 before any of them fully recovered enough to go on and take up the fallen banner of Beethoven and Schubert.

        "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

        by louisev on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 08:02:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Now that's a complicated and (0+ / 0-)

          difficult subject.

          he set the entire stage for the Romantic period.
          That gets into the whole "Was he romantic, classical, or what percentages thereof, etc." debate.  

          I would take the position that he may have set the stage for the romantics, but he was oh so completely different from them (and they were already there -- the Ninth was contemporaneous with the early romantics like Berlioz and Rossini and teenage Mendelssohn).

          The Romantics may have tried to adopt the narrative-driven aspects of his music, music as a reflection of the ego of the composer...  But they barely made a smidgeon of an attempt to emulate the intellectual and architectural Beethoven, which was the real Beethoven.  The Moonlight Sonata, for instance, was consistent with what the Romantics were about, but the Ninth, other than its ambitiousness, was just a whole different animal.  The Ninth, and his later works (and middle works too, to a slightly lesser extent) are incredibly complex clockworks.  And the Romantics had little tolerance for clockwork.

        •  age and self-deprecation (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Didn't intend to offend.  Sorry!  My 60 years aren't really old, either.  Had my stroke at age 54, though, which suggests I might not reach the longevity of the rest of my family.  Didn't even start college 'til I was 25.

  •  Thanks from a singer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for a wonderful diary. You gave a very evocative tour of the Ode.

    I've sung the Ninth in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus in two series of performances in two different seasons. For me the level of inspiration and awe never diminishes. I'm left an emotional dishrag at the end of every performance.

    Not only that, but the physical demand on the singers is considerable. It takes tremendous energy, and the tessitura of the baritone part is brutal, particularly for a bass like me. (For you non-singers, that means the basses have to sing for extended periods at or near the top of their vocal range. Very challenging.)

    I always figured that there were two main reasons the chorus gets to sit there for an hour before doing anything. One, it lets the singers share in the musical journey, preparing them mentally and emotionally to participate. Two, it gives them some much-needed time to rest, recuperate from rehearsals, and get ready to give every ounce of energy. If they had to sing for the entire duration of the symphony, they'd never make it to the end!

    •  That's a good point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      General Hubbub

      I imagine the singers in Mahler's 8th feel like like they've had the tar beat out of them by the end.

      •  I've never had that opportunity. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But I agree.

        A lot can depend on the conductor and on the acoustics of the hall. A conductor who isn't so sensitive to singers can ask them to do too much in order to be heard over the orchestra. And when singers try to do too much, they end up screaming and ruining their voices.

        A more sensitive and knowledgeable conductor balances the sound by making the orchestra play softer during key passages where the chorus must be heard. This keeps the singers from becoming physical wrecks.

      •  Actually, no (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        General Hubbub, Dumbo

        Well, it depends on the conductor. Part I can be stressful if someone (ahem, Schwarz again) takes it full roar from beginning to end. But Part II has plenty of places to dial it way back. There's time to prepare the vocal cords for the last pages (if can be hard to sing the start of Alles Vergangliche softly enough though).

        I've sung the 8th twice. The first time was in Ely Cathedral, in England. Unforgettable.

        Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?

        by UncleDavid on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 02:14:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Big Thank You (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I used to teach Ode to Joy in my AP European History class. I wish I had your guide back in the day...

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 02:18:48 PM PST

  • favorite version of Ode to Joy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    helpImdrowning, General Hubbub, Dumbo

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

    by mole333 on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 03:47:11 PM PST

  •  must... resist... urge... to... link... to... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    meh. resistance is fu-tile.

    if guns don't kill people, people kill people, does that mean toasters don't toast toast, toast toast toast?

    by bnasley on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 04:38:57 PM PST

  •  Baby take a bow! This is wonderful. Thanks. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

    by helpImdrowning on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 04:45:32 PM PST

  •  Funny how Conductors are so different. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Not crazy about Bernstein's take, like Berenboim's, but my favorite is Chung Myung Whun's. And I'm sure everybody else has their own favorite, which is wonderful and correct.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." -Benjamin Franklin

    by hotdamn on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 04:47:11 PM PST

    •  I like Barenboim's, too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SherwoodB, hotdamn

      but I was limited to what was available on Youtube.  If the Furtwangler recordings weren't of limited audio quality, I would have gladly used him.  There are dozens of Furtwangler Ninths on Youtube.

      Having said all that -- I think Bernstein did a fantastic job!  I think he brings more life and spirit to it than many conductors do, like Karajan.  

      •  Terrific diary Dumbo and well worth the wait! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dumbo, hotdamn

        Not much to add except my thanks that you picked my personal favorite version: Bernstein and the Vienna.

        I realize it's a matter of taste, but I heard MANY versions even before this was recorded and though I keep an open  mind, 30 years later this destroys me more than any other I have heard.
        I have yet to experience the Ninth in person, but will remain on the lookout!

        Thanks for this!

        I'm not paranoid, I'm just well informed--SherwoodB

        by SherwoodB on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 09:21:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You can't discuss "The Kiss" without this artwork: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    By Klimt -  the Beethoven fresco in the Secession Museum in Vienna:

    "...diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt"

    Evolution IS Intelligent Design!

    by msirt on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 09:47:48 PM PST

    •  I thought of adding a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      whole section about the Beethoven Frieze, but the diary was getting a bit... unwieldy!  Maybe if there was a fifth movement...

      •  Oh, we don't need another movement... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... the 4 says all.  

        I was lucky enough to see the frieze in person several years ago. It's a linear representation of mankind's physical and spiritual struggles, with ever-present angels leading mankind forward to "The Kiss" (the angels end up being the depicted choir in the fresco). The room that contains the frieze is not large enough to ever contain forces for a 9th symphony performance.  One needs to put oneself into the composer's hearing-less mental state to "hear" the glorious music depicted in the artwork, but this is possible (at least it was for me). Familiarity with the music is essential for this experience.

        Evolution IS Intelligent Design!

        by msirt on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:02:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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