Japan (Hosei UP)
When the final chorus of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony rises up, most concertgoers feel they could sing along. Of course, the melody is infectious – but what does Schiller's text signify? Dieter Hildebrandt relates the amazing story of the most famous symphony of all. Schiller's ODE TO JOY, an alcohol-inspired occasional poem, not meant to last for eternity, had been on Beethoven's mind for years before he put it to music. At first, the audience was slightly shocked. But shock soon gave way to boundless enthusiasm. Henceforth, the Ninth was to be music of choice whenever things became festively ceremonial: at patriotic gatherings, for the Olympic Games, as the hymn of the European Union. And so the many stories centering around this symphony also tell us about the 200 years that have passed since the creation of the Ninth – and of the writers and musicians who have promoted the breathtaking career of a simple melody that turned into the hymn of humanity.