Begin New Year’s Eve With Beethoven’s Ninth on Classical 101

Beethoven portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820(Photo: Wikipedia)
Beethoven portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820(Photo: Wikipedia)

Start your New Year’s Eve celebration with truly inspiring music. This evening on Symphony @ 7, we have Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, The Choral Symphony.

When this symphony was first heard in Vienna in May 1824, audiences knew it was something special — and it still is.  Not only was it large and imposing instrumentally but with its unprecedented choral finale, the Ninth expanded the boundaries of the symphony by including human voices to get Beethoven’s message across.

And what was that message?  Beethoven set the words of Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Joy to unforgettable music to express the longing for the universal brotherhood of all mankind.  A high aspiration indeed, but this symphony has inspired every generation between Beethoven and us just because of his vision and the power to express it so beautifully.  And it seems fitting to listen to Beethoven’s message of hope and joy as we begin our New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The performance we have for you on Symphony @ 7 comes from a critically well received recording with the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vanska.  If, however, you like you Ninth really big, here’s something from Japan that is outright humongous — 10,000 voices for the choral conclusion.

Happy New Year!