Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

This week’s theme is about Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in his 9th symphony, and how it has come to be an anthem of overcoming adversity.

There’s a film treatment of the “Ode to Joy” which I think is stupendous, and I’ve included a link to the clip below. (The movie is called “Immortal Beloved” — a reference to a letter found in his desk at his death, addressed to “My Immortal Beloved”. We don’t know who she is.) A little backstory will be helpful:

The scene takes place during the premier of his 9th Symphony. The filmmaker has woven together a number of historical facts about Beethoven in creating this scene:

  • Beethoven was close to entirely deaf but not quite — so they stood him in the middle of the orchestra so he could hear a little of it.
  • In the movie, while the symphony unfolds Beethoven remembers a scene from his childhood, which includes his alcoholic brutal father who indeed beat him and his brothers. (Ludwig was the oldest).
  • When the symphony was finished, Beethoven was indeed oblivious to the cheering of the audience. The conductor really did have to turn him around to receive his accolades.