Beethoven’s 9th: A beginner’s guide to the Ode to Joy

Beethoven (1770-1827), portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820

It was a favourite of the Nazi Party; it was adopted by Communists to celebrate Marx’s ideals; it was played at the fall of the Berlin Wall to celebrate the collapse of Communism; and it’s currently the anthem of the European Union. Few pieces of music have been adopted to identify so many disparate groups. What is it about Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and the fourth movement in particular – the Ode to Joy – which inspires us?

Producer: Michele Ernsting

Broadcast: December 24, 2004