Got 12 minutes on this New Year’s Day for an Ode to Joy that will lift your spirit in appreciation for the year past? Yes, for that year, tempestuous and fraught as it may have been, and truly, for every other year and all the other days you have lived? With luck, there will be still more days stretching out before you, miracles all, awaiting…
Exactly what more important thing could you be going about today, on this first day of the new year, and the rest of your life?
A note on the orchestra: Consisting of youths from Palestine, Israel, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Spain, it was founded in 1999 by Argentina-born conductor Daniel Barenboim, who emigrated with his family to Israel at age 9, and the late Palestine-born Columbia University academic Edward Said. Their intention was to “instigate a conversation” in that historically troubled part of the world that would have the beauty of music at its root. The orchestra was named after a suite of poems by the 18th century German poet and statesman Goethe, who was in turn inspired by the 14th century Persian poet Hafiz. It maintains an active concert schedule throughout the world. See more: https://www.west-eastern-divan.org/
ODE TO JOY TEXT
(By Friedrich von Schiller, 1785, adapted slightly for musical purposes by Beethoven)
O friends, no more of these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
More songs full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Within thy sanctuary.
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 our song of praise;
But those 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 sent on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
Like a hero going to victory!
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.
In the mood for the full 25-minute version of this movement by another orchestra with no less stellar performances or camera work? At your service… (The full symphony is available from multiple sources as well, just scroll away on You Tube, which is yet one more thing to be thankful for on this day.)
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Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at the top of this page. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lizhaslam/
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Andrew-Thank you! What a joy to listen to this sipping my morning coffee, marveling at the goodness in the world and the raw beauty outside my dining room window. Harriet
So glad you could give it a listen, Harriet. I offer a money-back guarantee that it will most certainly improve your life! :-)
Andrew. Great thought. Many thanks. My personal favorite of all the recordings of this I have listened to is the following below with the Boston Symphony recorded eons ago.. I try and give this piece a listen several times a year.
Beethoven*, Charles Munch, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Leontyne Price, Maureen Forrester, David Poleri, Giorgio Tozzi – Beethoven Symphony No. 9 In D Minor Op. 125 (Choral)
Hard to find since it was recorded 50 years ago but Toscanini and Michael Tilson Thomas have recorded great versions as well that are easier to find.
Happy New Year. All the best!
Thanks for that, Bruce. That version exists on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMsJA0GyZD4 , though it’s not video, just a static shot with the recording. Also interesting it clocks in a good 3-4 minutes less than most other versions, so Munch really upped the tempo!
I rather enjoyed this bit of wit from the Comments as well: “when any piece is available conducted by charles munch it is silly to listen to any other performance, except to study what the others do wrong.”
Happy Listening to you in 2018!