Beethoven's 9th


On Christmas Night, 1989, Leonard Bernstein led the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, celebrating the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a restoration of unity to the Divided Germanies, as well as a sense of reconciliation between former enemies.

I have uploaded just the 2nd half of the 4th Movement, the only movement in a Beethoven symphony to feature a choir, singing "Ode to Joy," originally a poem by German poet Friedrich von Schiller. The text confirms the effort at reconciliation: "Alle Menschen werden Brüder, wo Dein sanfter Flügel weilt." All men will be brothers, where Thy soft wings hover.

For this performance, Bernstein recruited about 200 singers. The beauty and the volume of the collective sound must have intimidated the audience. Note that, for a long moment at the end, the audience does not clap. Who wanted to be the first to break the momentous silence after such a momentous performance?

I have done some comparison shopping, comparing this performance to others on YouTube, and I have to admit, none of the others moves me like this one.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen! 
Diesen Kuß, der ganzen Welt! 
Brüder, über dem Sternenzelt! 
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen!
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen!  
Ahnest Du den Schöpfer, Welt?

Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss I give to the entire world!
Brothers! Above the tent of stars,
 there must be a loving Father.
You are humbled, you millions!
Do you not sense the presence of a Creator?

The Concert House in East Berlin was sold out for this performance. In addition, 20,000 more people crowded the plaza of the Gendarmenmarkt, enduring the cold December night in order to listen to the performance over loudspeakers. Beethoven must have turned over in his grave. Never has his music been put to better use than it is here.

I hope my readers will insanely enjoy this performance, as I have.