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“An Die Freude”

September 14, 2008

DH and I had a date last night.  It was wonderful, and not just because we got to go out (although that’s always nice), but because we went to hear the Utah Symphony play Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Ode to Joy.  I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard it in person.  It blares from my cd player frequently, but hearing it live is a whole different experience!  I loved it!  They also played Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto with Garrick Ohlsson at the piano.  That was amazing as well, although we were a little too far back to really see his hands. 

One thing that I love about going to the symphony is being able to hear where all of the different parts of the music come from in the orchestra.  It’s completely different than having every sound come out of the same speakers at home.  And then in the Ninth Symphony, having the full force of the choir and orchestra coming at you. . . oh, it was wonderful.  I love choral/orchestral pieces and just the massive amounts of sound that can be produced. 

It was announced that Robert Breault, the tenor soloist, had agreed to sing even though he was suffering from a terrible cold at present.  I wish I could sing like that with a bad head cold!  All the soloists were fabulous, and of course I loved the cello/bass section solos in the last movement.  This is on my list of pieces to play before I die.  I always watch the cello section to see how crazy it would be to play certain pieces.  This would definitely be a challenge, but I would love to learn it.  And my symphony does have a working relationship with a choir at present, so it just might be a possibility someday.  One can only hope.

Then today, I just happened to read in the newspaper (at 5:00) that KUED was broadcasting (at 6:00, every once in a while I’m just that lucky!) a video recording of a concert of Beethoven’s Ninth conducted by Leonard Bernstein on Christmas Day 1989 in Berlin.  Now there’s a new item on my wish list! (hint, hint–I have a birthday coming up.)  I have a cd of this same concert, but I’ve never seen the video before.  They brought together musicians from America, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union (at the time), and Germany to play a concert to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Leonard Bernstein was to conduct and at the last minute, he decided to instruct the choir to substitute ‘freiheit’ for ‘freude’ in the final movement.  Thus “Ode to Joy” became “Ode to Freedom.” 

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is one of those moments in history that I can say I will always remember.  Having been in both West and East Berlin in August 1989 and getting to experience going through the Iron Curtain, I had some very emotional feelings on hearing the wall was coming down.  Incidentally my cello teacher gave a recital that same day of all German music (Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven.)  I was talking about this to a cello student not too long ago.  She was politely listening and I suddenly realized that she hadn’t even been alive in 1989 and really had no concept of what the fall of the Berlin Wall was all about.  I suddenly felt kind of old.  But it was certainly something to celebrate, and I think Beethoven was absolutely fitting for the occasion.  It was good to relive some of the memories this afternoon.

(Despite murmuring greatly when KUED chose to pause the broadcast right before the last movement to make a plea for contributions.  I’m all in favor of supporting public television, although I personally prefer to support KBYU, but really, that was highly annoying to stop at that point.)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2008 11:24 am

    What a wonderful experience you were able to have. Living so far out in the boonies it’s on my list to just see and actual live symphony before I die. That would be a dream come true.

  2. September 15, 2008 10:46 pm

    Oh man! I really wanted to go to that!! I’m so glad you and your hubby got to go and that it was so enjoyable.
    Hey, I was in Germany (Nurnberg) when the wall came down. It was a very emotional experience and I think that Ode to Joy/Freedom was physical manifestation of that emotion.
    So, yeah, I’m old too. 🙂

  3. Mom permalink
    September 16, 2008 10:00 am

    Thank you for sharing your feelings about the concert. It was neat that we both got to hear the concert although on different nights. Thanks for telling me about the broadcast on KUED. I did watch it and enjoyed the enthusiasm of Bernstein and the choir. I had forgotten that you were in Germany the same year the Wall came down.

  4. September 16, 2008 10:21 am

    A date with hubby and the symphony, how lucky can you get?! I remember when the wall came down, I just sat and watched the news and cried. It was one of those defining moments. BTW,your not old, your just “experienced.” (That is what I tell my kids anyway!)

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