Saturday, May 25, 2024
Home Society Beethoven had an ‘intercom with God’ that dictated every note of his ‘Ninth Symphony’ to him 200 years ago

Beethoven had an ‘intercom with God’ that dictated every note of his ‘Ninth Symphony’ to him 200 years ago

by News Room
0 comment

On May 7, 1824, Ludwig van Beethoven’s (1770-1827) Ninth Symphony was premiered in Vienna. Two hundred years later, this “symphony of symphonies” is alive and well and hyper-current. What is the secret behind this piece of music by a deaf German composer?

When I was 15 years old, a little ritual was developed with the manager of an electronics store in my hometown Horst. Whenever I had saved enough for a blank cassette, he would fill it with the music of Ludwig van Beethoven. Maurizio Pollini with it Fourth Piano Concerto Alfred Brendel with piano sonatas, Herbert von Karaja with symphonies.

Unforgettable is the afternoon when I saw it for the first time Ninth heard It was spring. The monumental sounds drowned out the blackbirds in the garden. Suddenly, after three-quarters of an hour of enchantment, a man’s voice was heard: “O friend, nicht diese Töne!” Followed by the chorus: “Freude schöner Götterfunken…” When the clock seemed to be more than twenty minutes later, the world was different.

What had happened? To be honest, I’ve been looking for an answer since that afternoon. I noticed that Ninth has all possible fans. Out of respect for Beethoven, the composer Brahms dared to write the symphony himself only later in life, from which the melody was derived Ninth . There’s a video on YouTube of a concert hall full of Nazis going through the roof Ninth . Yet it could not have been otherwise all men become brothers became the anthem of the European Union. And when Philips and Sony jointly developed the CD player in the last century, the time to play the revolutionary disc was immediately clear: Ninth had to agree.

Unbelievable that muddlehead can be so innovative and perfect

The secret of this piece, how could it be otherwise, lies in the music itself. According to conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, Beethoven had a hotline with God, who always dictated the next note to him. Unbelievable that a freak can be so innovative and perfect. After all, the chaos of Beethoven’s life, his illegible handwriting, sketchbooks full of ideas and erasures, hanging clothes are legendary.

Govert Derix

Writer and philosopher Govert Derix is ​​a friend and author of Bonn’s Beethoven Haus Hyperphilosophy (‘seeking wisdom in unwise times’), where the symphony plays a special role.

In the book Beethoven and the creative process musicologist Barry Cooper shows how he struggled with his works. Beethoven opened up new acoustic worlds by building great structures from tiny musical “cells”. Just like in mysticism, the microcosm and the macrocosm are interconnected. To achieve this, he explored complex paths to solutions that we now know as evergreens. In Beethoven, every note is important. It explains the recurring comment that Mozart wrote for the coming weekend’s concert and Beethoven for eternity.

Beethoven wrote his last symphony for the London Philharmonic Society, which had shown interest in his work as early as 1817. Like his teacher Joseph Haydn and his role model George Frederick Händel (in his opinion the greatest composer of all time), Beethoven would have liked to move to London, but his illness and financial demands prevented this. His deafness may also have played a part. As a young man, Beethoven had moved from Bonn to Vienna to succeed as a pianist and composer, but due to increasing deafness, he no longer performed as a pianist, probably from 1811 onwards.

The late Beethoven chose paths that many considered completely insane

A distinction is often made between the early Beethoven who followed in the footsteps of Mozart and Haydn, the heroic Beethoven who developed a new style (including the famous Tatatata Symphony), and the late Beethoven who followed paths that drove many people completely insane. .

The late Beethoven tackled two gigantic projects at the same time: Mass , his very personal interpretation of the Latin High Mass. And Ninth in which he used a poem popular at the time ode to joy Friedrich Schiller (Hymn to Joy).

Beethoven wrote the piece when he was 24 years old love in return whose melody seems the same all men become brothers , but still different. The same melody occurs The choir’s fantasy from 1808. When he finally, after being tempted by the reward, starts working on the symphony for London, he does not intend to use a German (!) text in it yet, and the arrangement of the melody of that piece is not an obvious choice either. .

It can be concluded from the sketchbooks that the melody, which later ended up as a string quartet, was originally intended for the last of the four movements of the new symphony. That part is still completely instrumental, so no vocals. In any case, a symphony with choral singing was something unheard of in 1824.

Lovely applause

For those less familiar with classical music: the symphony (literally: harmony) originated in the 18th century as a three- or four-part piece of music consisting of fast and slow parts. Beethoven is the first to transform each symphony into a unique world of sounds. Attendees of the premiere at Vienna’s Kärtnertor Theater on May 7, 1824 must have wondered what the chorus and four soloists, who sat silently on stage for over 45 minutes, were doing there. After the third movement (considered by many to be the most beautiful slow movement ever written for a symphony), they all stood up at the same time at the conductor’s command.

That conductor was not Beethoven himself. Or is it. The poster also says that the composer himself “participated” in directing the whole. The fact is that he was standing next to the actual conductor but was too deaf to hear much. The rapturous applause afterwards did not get to him; the young soprano Caroline Unger turned it towards the audience: one of the most moving moments in music history.

Hélène Nolthenius photographs Ninth In his biography of Beethoven, with the romantic expression “Himmelhoch jauchzend, zum Tode betrübt”. According to the author, this music “opens the vast land of melancholy: all the sufferings of the world are given a voice, a living stream of sorrow: it is purified.”

This purification reaches its absolute peak in the final chorus. According to the philosopher Theodor W. Adorno, Beethoven’s music testifies to a world where everything can still go well, which also means that as long as this music plays, everything can always go well. Beethoven gives hope “without the lie of religion”. This makes the premiere show extra special. Assemblies Mass played for the first time. Plus an overture Consecration of the house in the style of his hero Handel.

The listener hears the curtain rise

I myself tend to characterize Beethoven’s late work with a wisdom that puts one in touch with the essence of what it means to be human in enigmatic nature before the supreme creative principle: “Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?” On his desk (on display in the Beethoven House in Bonn, where he was born) was a quote in his handwriting from Schiller’s essay on the Egyptian cult of Isis: “I am that which is, which was, and which shall be. No mortal has ever lifted my veil.” It does just that Ninth . The listener hears the curtain rise.

Right after that Ninth was first performed in London in March 1825, it was performed in Aachen. The conductor was Beethoven’s student Ferdinand Ries. In a letter dated June 9 of the same year, he wrote to the master in Vienna: “This work is incomparable, and even if you had written this, you would have made yourself immortal.”

Leave a Comment