Brad DeLong always finds a new twist to inquire about the fundamentals of human civilisation – here’s what he writes today:
“By what right is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony so damn good?
Why do we like it so much?”
The 4th movement was my first hit-single, believe it or not. And deaf Ludwig van B. was my first pop-star, when I was six (it never mattered that much that the words are actually Schiller’s). I even got the orchestral score as a Christmas present once – although I would not recommend trying to play it on solo-piano. It just doesn’t sound like it does in the Berlin philharmony, if you know what I mean.
I largeley quit classic music as a teenager, for obvious reasons. But one of the few pieces I voluntarily listened to (as opposed to being forced to listen to by well-meaning parents) even during that period was Beethoven’s ninth.
So why do “we” like it that much? Maybe because it is an ode to joy written by a man whose will was strong enough to cope with the hardest of all fates for a composer – deafness. Maybe because it reassures us that whatever seemingly insurmountable problem may appear one day, there is always hope. [author off to look for CD]