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The Intersection of Science, Art, Music & Humanities

Beethovan: Fired Up, Ready To Go

Sunday, March 19, 2017

To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.  —Ludwig Van Beethoven

Today we celebrate Beethoven, his final Ninth symphony masterpiece and its majestic choral, "Ode to Joy," which has become the battle cry of humanity and the hymn of possibility.

Hearing the third and fourth movements of the Ninth never fails to reaffirm my love of music and what humanity can achieve when it's "fired up, ready to go."

In his Ninth, Beethoven mixes strong accents of despair and disillusionment, even outright terror, and he balances these emotions with musical acts of nobel and life-affirming artistic creation, and at times, pure joy.

Here are four examples of the Ninth's profound global presence in the more than190 years since its first performance in 1824:

1. In Chile, the  "Ode to Joy" was sung by women in the streets during the Pinochet years, sometimes marching by the walls of torture prisons, so those trapped inside could hear the music.

2. At Tiananmen Square in 1989, students played the Ninth over makeshift loudspeakers as a sign of solidarity and to drown out the sound of the troops coming in to crush their democratic movement.

3. In Japan, the Ninth is performed hundreds of times in December, sometimes with as many as 10,000 people in the chorus. It was also played through makeshift loudspeakers to bring hope to the people after the devastation of the 2011 tsunami.

4. South Africa's Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra honors Nelson Mandela's birthday by performing Beethoven's Ninth.

Today's Sunday Morning Stop at the Intersection of Science, Art, Music and Humanities video  features the Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus.  

Ellen Troyer with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff