Tune of the Day: Ode to Joy
Completed in 1824, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is one of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire, and is considered one of Beethoven's greatest masterpieces.
The symphony was the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony. The words are sung during the final movement by four vocal soloists and a chorus. They were taken from the “Ode to Joy”, a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785.
Oh friends, not these tones!
Let us raise our voices in more pleasing
And more joyful sounds!
Believe it or not, Beethoven was completely deaf when he composed his ninth symphony. Not only that, but at the premiere he even shared the stage with the official director, giving the tempos, turning the pages of his score and beating time for an orchestra he could not hear. When at the end of the performance the audience applauded, Beethoven was several measures off and still conducting. Because of that, the contralto Caroline Unger walked over and turned Beethoven around to accept the audience's cheers and applause. The whole audience acclaimed him through standing ovations five times; there were handkerchiefs in the air, hats, raised hands, so that Beethoven, who could not hear the applause, could at least see the ovation gestures. The theater house had never seen such enthusiasm in applause.