Beethoven’s ‘Choral’ is arguably the greatest symphony ever composed: the summit of his achievements, a masterful musical celebration of the human race and a massive work that makes all who hear it feel better about life.
For almost 200 years, the famous hymnal theme to this symphony’s finale – the ‘Ode to Joy’ – has symbolised hope, unity and fellowship – across borders and through conflicts. .
Yet, Beethoven himself never actually heard it The man who had done more than anyone before him to change the way we hear music had become one for whom sounds could no longer exist – and the bitter irony of this was not lost on him.
Despite his deteriorating hearing, though, Beethoven persevered with writing this mammoth symphony. Encouraged, no doubt, by his status as the composer of the moment, he penned a colossal work.
But, when Beethoven conducted its premiere, he was famously unaware of the rapturous response his ninth symphony received. It took one of the musicians to alert him to the cheering audience – and that was only at the end of the second movement.
The program will also feature performances of Alexander Borodin’s Polovetsian Dance, and Carmina Burana by Carl Orff.