Ever since Beethoven‘s iconic Ninth Symphony premiered May 7, 1824 at the Theater am Kärntnertor in Vienna, it has remained arguably the most popular composition in the classical music canon, thanks largely to its final movement, the “Ode to Joy,” with a text by poet Friedrich Schiller.
But Beethoven’s music has become something much more than popular. With its expansive length, mold-busting design, and the inclusion of solo singers and chorus, he was proposing nothing less than a philosophy for humanity.
Beethoven, the composer-philosopher, was a man who suffered more than we can imagine and yet he retained optimism and a sense of hope that we can admire and even envy. He believed wholeheartedly in the goodness of humanity, the power of love, joy, unity, tolerance and peace to overcome and endure.