This is our last week of listening to the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, but I hope it will just be the beginning of your further exploration of his music. For a man who lived only fifty-seven years, had a miserable childhood, poor health all his life, and eventually complete hearing loss, his creative output is impressive. He wrote:
9 symphonies; 32 Piano Sonatas; 16 String Quartets; 7 Piano Trios; 5 String Quintets; 10 Violin Sonatas; 5 Cello Sonatas; 1 Sonata for Horn; 1 Opera- Fidelio; 7 Concerti; Miscellaneous piano compositions such as Bagatelles
For this week’s listening we will complete the Ninth Symphony, listening to movements three and four. The fourth movement is where you will hear the famous “ode to joy” theme. I’ve also included a recording of the Horn Sonata. It is such a rollicking, catchy tune and it will lift your spirits and set your toes tapping! The 3rd movement of the Ninth Symphony is played by the Czech Republic Orchestra and the 4th movement of the Ninth Symphony is performed by 10,000 Japanese musicians. It is truly a remarkable performance and illustrates well how Beethoven’s music transcends cultural boundaries and speaks to all humanity. The words sung by the soloists and choir in the fourth movement is from a poem by Goethe, a German poet. Here are the words in English:
O friends, no more these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
more full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.
Whoever has created
An abiding friendship,
Or has won
A true and loving wife,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join in our song of praise;
But any who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.
All creatures drink of joy
At nature’s breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.
Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He set on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero going to conquest.
You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell.
3rd Movement from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony
4th Movement from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony