"The Anthem of Joy: Hear Beethoven’s Ninth, and wonder at Creation"
It is a testament to Beethoven’s achievement that his masterpiece is familiar to the point of ubiquity — the anthem of the European Union no less — yet still vital. A new documentary, Following the Ninth, traces its impact on people around the world. A few months ago, 60 Minutes did a segment on a plucky, against-the-odds symphony orchestra in the desperately poor Congo. Its rendition of the Ninth is ragged, but heartfelt and as moving as anything ever performed in Vienna.
The music historian Harold Schonberg writes of the Ninth Symphony, “The music is not pretty or even attractive. It is merely sublime.” The Ode to Joy asks, “Do you sense the Creator, World?” It is the miracle of the Ninth that, at the height of its power, it almost compels the listener to answer “Yes!”