Thursday, September 23, 2010

An die Freude

"To Joy" (German: "An die Freude," first line: "Freude, schöner Götterfunken", in English often called Ode to Joy) is an ode written in 1785 by the German poet, playwright and historian Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller. The poem celebrates the ideal of unity and brotherhood of all mankind.

It is best known for its musical setting by Ludwig van Beethoven in the final movement of his Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" (completed in 1824), for four solo voices, and choir.

"One day he [Beethoven] burst into the room and shouted at me: 'I got it!  I have it!' He held his sketchbook out to me so that I could read: 'Lassst uns das Lied des unsterblichen Schiller singen' —Let us sing the song of the immortal Schiller; then a solo voice began the hymn of joy."

The Beethoven setting of "An die Freude" is the official anthem of the European Union.

Despite Beethoven’s influence and his overwhelming popularity in Vienna his Ninth Symphony was still greeted with some criticism, chiefly for the use of human voices in the final movement. For example, Friedrich Wieck, the notorious father of Clara Schumann, said that the symphony was of “unpalatable chaos” that was “simply unpleasant and must remain so” (Schott 3). Even Wagner, who regarded Beethoven, Liszt, and himself as the only great composers in history, spoke not entirely positively of the symphony.

Leonard Bernstein conducts
Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
Op. 125 4th movement


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