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Noon Edition

Beethoven: Ninth Symphony, Ode To Joy

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has long been one of the towering achievements in the history of Western music. The text of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” calling for the unity of all humanity in peace, definitely struck a chord with Beethoven and rang true many years later in 1989. That year, as many of us remember, was the year the Berlin Wall finally came crumbling down, ending decades of tensions between the Western powers and the Soviet-controlled Eastern nations. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the great Leonard Bernstein (himself a champion of Beethoven’s music) got together members from the New York and London Philharmonics, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Orchestre de Paris and the Kirov Opera Orchestra to perform Beethoven’s Ninth. The chorus, too, was a mix of singers from Germany, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the US. Bernstein made a slight change to Goethe’s text to fit the occasion by famously changing the word “Freude” (Joy) to “Freiheit” (Freedom).

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