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5.24.2008

Beethoven's 9th Symphony

Is there a better piece of music out there than Beethoven's 9th?

WordGirl and I had the privilege of seeing a full performance by the local symphony orchestra a couple of years back---just amazing.

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig & Kurt Masur put out the best version I've heard on CD on their "Beethoven: The Nine Symphonies" compilation awhile back. The 3rd movement is as achingly beautiful as anything I've ever heard. I get chills when they get to that glorious moment in the 4th movement with the full chorus, and I can't help but tear up before the end of the piece. "Ode to Joy" indeed.

WordGirl loves it primarily because she's an alto and the piece is hell on sopranos.

The most amazing thing about it for me is the image of Beethoven, the great composer, conducting the piece from the score in 1824 before a packed house. He was well out of synch with the orchestra by the end of it---they finished before he did. The crowd erupted in a standing ovation which Beethoven was oblivious to---he had his back to them. Someone had to gently turn him around, whereupon the reception the piece had received from an awestruck audience sent tears streaming down his cheeks.

There is nothing quite so rare in this world as a genius being recognized within his own lifetime. Given what Beethoven had endured to get to that moment, I'm rather surprised there haven't been more cinematic treatments of his life in American movies.

And what better proof of the existence of God is there but that a deaf man composed this most sublime music in his head?

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