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Beethoven’s Ninth

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If it is at all possible — meaning, if you are not trapped beneath a heavy kitchen appliance, in which case you have other pressing concerns — you should attend the performance of LvB’s Ninth Symphony on Saturday, April 25th, at 7:30, in the Kent Concert Hall.

The 9th is a triumph of human achievement. Musicologists have said that LvB had carried “absolute music” — music, that is, as it is in itself, its pure form — to its extreme limit. When he composed the 9th, he needed to go beyond the absolute. So he mixed together full orchestra with full chorus, which had not been done before. It is a summit of western culture, a flag planted upon our own Everest. It is the sound heard by a man who could not hear any other thing.

In the last movement, the famous “Ode to Joy” tune is brought forward by a lone tenor voice, as if to say: it is the individual, with his own heart and his own mind, that gives voice to humanity. The tune is a celebration of skyscrapers and aid to the poor; of rockets to the moon and charity toward the needy; of joy and anguish and triumph. It is the one song that must be played when the aliens come and want to know if humanity is worth knowing.

So shave your head, get a tattoo, and be ready to shout “Huzzah!” at the glorious finale.



  1. I am guaranteed to be there, it will be a birthday present the likes of which I’ve never received.

    Bach was perhaps the greatest composer ever, and Holst’s Planets are always fighting for that top tier, but Beethoven wrote the greatest music that has ever existed, period end of story. That so many people in my day considered him and classical in general ‘boring’ is an incredible embarrassment to my generation, our huge black eye among many. I think there’s plenty to be said about our modern time when Hip Hop and Jessica Simpson are even remotely compared to this, or called “just different”.

    Sorry for the rant, I will not miss the show if I have to crawl there by one hand after being paralyzed from a massive explosion.


  2. Jordan says:

    The ninth is probably his greatest achievement, but I prefer the sixth by far. Its not grandiose, but few things make me happier than the first and second movements.


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