Let Joy be unrestrained in this masterpiece
"At 8am in a cold school hall, the junior band of a primary school is creaking into life. After a few squeaks and parps, the conductor calls for order. ''Ode to Joy, from the top.''
And with that, 40 children begin their assault on the theme from the last movement of Beethoven's Symphony No.9. It is loud and excruciating, but it is still recognisable as one of the most famous melodies in the classical music canon.
Like the Mona Lisa and Shakespeare's Hamlet, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is one of those works of art that lives in our collective consciousness. The final movement's Ode to Joy, Beethoven's setting of Schiller's bacchanalian battle cry, has become an anthem for humanity. It was used to drown out the totalitarian commands of the government at Tiananmen Square; in Chile, choirs of women sang their version of the Ode to Joy outside Pinochet's prisons to give hope to political prisoners within; and Leonard Bernstein co-opted the work (changing the word ''freude'', or joy, to ''freiheit'', or freedom) at the international celebration of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Even last week, as the fireworks blazed over London for the opening of the Olympics, Daniel Barenboim conducted the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, made up of young musicians from Israel, Palestine and the Middle East, performing the Ninth Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall." Click here to read more.