IX. symphony, d-minor, opus 125


I. movement


Movement form: sonata form.

Tempo designation: Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso

Time signature: 2/4


I. Exposition


All three themes of the exposition is preceeded by introductory music.  

The melody of the first theme evolves from the introductory music, its beginning is also called “fall-motif”. Egy_elso_tema

With some alteration the introductory music and the first theme is repeated, then a motif of the first theme is repeated.


Transition follows. Its material is developed from one of the main theme’s motif; its energetic, its melody is repeated.


The melody of the second theme is short and appealing; it first sounds on clarinet than on oboe; its melody is not continuous, it consists of several short sections; it is repeated. Let us notice the string passages playing under the theme. /Counter point!/ Egy_masodik_tema


After the second theme a longer transition section begins – rich in motivs –, in which we hear the scale-figurations repeated four times. Then the so called episode-theme follows, we hear it twice, and finally the transition is concluded by a melodic motif (sounds on fwoodwing instruments). The transition is characteristic of dynamic contrast: fortissimo-piano; power- and tenderness.


The closing theme is also preceeded by introductory music, repeated several times on violins. In fact there are two closing themes. It is unusual, not customary; to notice them requires increased awareness. Under the flowchart pointas of time mark their beginning, since their melody is covered by fortissimo sounding and orchestral chords. The Z1 sounds in bass, Z2 sounds on oboe. Egy_zaro_tema


The exposition part after the closing theme is concluded by an epilogue.


Beethoven did not instruct the repetition of the exposition’s introductory line, so the next section is the





The elaboration can be divided into four development sections, blocks.


A./ Reminiscent of the introductory music’s mood the beginning of the first theme, the so called fall-motif sounds, it is repeated and accompanied by a concluding-figuration /the musical material of which is made of the material of the transition at the end of the  expostition/. Meanwhile the dynamics become more intense, then the so called chorus made from one of the motifs of the first theme; its melody is played on oboe and flute. The chorus’ melody is present in all four developments; its role is to conclude as well as connect the elaboration sections.


B./ Its musical material is similar that of the previous section’s.


C./ This is the elaboration’s most significant part. The main theme’s altered motif is developed in fugato.

As if we listened to Bach, this time in classical style of course. In the followings a short motif is played and repeated several times, then again the well known chorus sounds.


D./ In thei section – after a short transition – the second theme is developed (we hear the repetition in bass), then a chorus follows. After, a powerful transition leads into the reexposition, where the first theme sounds amid frightening rumbles; but this is the beginning of the reexposition now.


Beethoven took special care when composing the musical material that is included within the sonata form’s elaboration. He did not elude this less significant section’s challenges. An example of this is the III. and VIII. symphonies I. movement, as well as the I. movement’s elaboration in this symphony.

Not all composers thought like him, as it was considered hard work to embed and develop the musical themes, motifs within a new environment.

Beethoven gave the maximum here as well. He could not do otherwise, as he was extremely demanding of his own high standards. /He made the sonata form’s coda classical as well./




Opposed to the rules of the sonata form, here the exposition is not repeated exactly. The first theme sounds on the whole orchestra in fortissimo. We can hardly recognize it. It can be seen as a climax of the movement. The orchestral sounding slowly quietens down with the repetition of one of the movement’s motifis. After, from the beginning of the second theme’s introductory music, the reexposition’s melodies continue according to the exposition.





Just as the elaboration, the coda can also be divided into sections.


First section. The music begins with the first theme, more precisely the fall-motif, then this motif is developed; more instruments join in, as if we were listening to the elaboration; the music becomes richer, full of sounding; we await a musical event, an entry of a theme.


Second section. At the end of the previous section the music progresses towards a dynamic climax, to which we arrives to at the beginning of the second section. The musical materiel here consists of scale-figurations and of the second theme’s motifs.


Third section. The coda’s most beautiful part begins when the first theme’s motif sounds on the horn. The motif is repeated several times. When the woodwind instruments enter the sounding is elevated; later the motif developes into a small dynamic climax, then the orchestra gradually quietens, and as a conclusion scale-figurations follow, which lead to a chorus.


Fourth or concluding section. The section’s theme is called coda-theme, – its rhythm and the sound of the kettledrum are reminiscent of a funeral march; in bass foreboding, grim, chromatic passages are played. The musical material of the coda thickens: one of its motifs is repeated, then as a conclusion the fall-motif sounds on whole orchestra, along with two upward moving short passages, and then the coda – and the movement – ends with the reprise of the first theme’s second part.


II. movement


Movement form: scherzo in its attributes, but

                             A./ first part:      scherzo in sonata form,

                             B./ second part:  Presto (in fact a Trio),

                             C./ third part:     scherzo.

Tempo designation: Molto vivace, time signature:  3/4



A./ Analysis of the first main part




As an introduction a rhythm-formula sounds four times, it is called rhythm-motif.


Its correspondent in Greek poetics is the ”dactyl”.

Dactyl: a foot in poetic meter consisting of a long syllable followed by two short syllables; example: poetry; it is marked as:   È È )


This rhytm-motif is present throughout the scherzo; within the flow of the music it sometimes sounds in its clearest form, sometimes slightly hidden, almost inaudibly.



The scherezo has two themes.

The first theme is fast paced; the theme is began by the second violins, cellos, then the first violins enter, followed by the double bass; the theme’s presentation is fugue-like. Its repetition is fulfilled on the whole orchestra.Ketto_elso_tema


After a transition the second theme follows, which is a melody characteristic of dancing and folk mood. Ketto_masodik_tema


After another transition the closing theme begins, at the end of which we hear the entry of the rhythm-motif, interrupted by an orchestral pause. Ketto_zaro_tema


In the followings, according to the rules of the sonata form, the musical material, more precisely the theme’s introductory line is repeated.




The elaboration part also begins with rhythm-motifs, then the first theme sounds along with more rhythm motifs on kettledrums.

Then a small motif is rhythmically repeated, the dynamics become more powerful at the end of which the first theme explodes on the whole orchestra (this time not in fugato!), which means the beginning of the reprise.

Creating a flow chart would not possible, also wouldn’t be practical.




After the repetition of the exposition’s material we hear the elaboration then the reexposition again, at the end of which the melody of the beginning of the first theme with increased speed concludes the scherzo.

This “reexposition structure is in fact a sonata in the sonata!



B./ Second main part: the Presto

(Beethoven wrote Presto instead of Trio).


The presto can be divided into three sections and has two melodies:

the Presto-theme, Ketto_presto_tema

and the melody of the transition section  Ketto_Presto_atvez


1/ In the first section a  Presto-theme is always repeated four times; it is a most simple melody, accompanied by a constant counterpoint first played on bassoon. Its rhythm is reminiscent of folk dance. Many think it is similar to the Russian folk song “The Birch Tree (Beriozka)”. Its sounding is simple, idyllic. While the transition’s melody is in legato, the Presto-theme is in staccato. Hangzása egyszerû, idillikus.

In the followings the Presto-theme sounds on horns, then on oboes.


2/ The second section is a repetition of the first. Its sounding is softer, more pleasant. At the end of this section, the part that begins with the entry of the oboe is particularly beautiful, uplifting.


3/ In the third section the Presto theme sounds on strings, then the coda concludes the section. In the coda the frame, the simplified melody of the Presto-theme remains, which sounds clearly on the strings, then the music gradually reaches a dynamic climax. After, the orchestra gradually goes silent, and we reach the beginning of the scherzo, more precisely, its repetition.


Observation: while what makes the scherzo’s music grand, and an example of unmatched, peerless beauty in music is the alternations in rhythm, the Presto’s music achieves this through its simple melody, clear sounding and the masterful organization of harmonies.



C./ Third main part: Scherzo – 2.


After the trio, according to the rules of the form, agaoin the scherzo follows, but the repetition of the themes is omitted and the elaboration and reexposition are next.

At the end of the scherzo the beginning of the first theme is sped up, as if the trio is to begin again, but a few concluding chords end the movement.



III. movement


Movement tempo designation: Adagio molto e cantabile

Movement form: variational movement, time signature: 4/4


A short introductory music (only two bars) begins the movement.

The movement has two melodies: the main melody and the episode-theme.


The main melody sounds on violins. It is a long arched melody, which is not concluded; some parts of the melody are echoed by the wind. (Beethoven rarely composed such long arched melodies!). Harom_fodallam


After the main melody the so called episode-theme follows, which is repeated three times. It is perhaps even more intimate than the main melody.



Next sounds the main melody’s first variation. It is figurative, which means that while the melody itself remains unaltered, the violins elaborate it in an extremely variegated way.


The episode-theme follows, again repeated three times.


After a transition section prepares the main melody’s newer, second variation.  The figurations here are even richer than in the first variation.


The trumpet’s and the horn’s shrill sign announces the beginning of the coda, then, we hear the main melody’s free variation. In this variational development most of the time the main melody is carried by the bass part, but we can also experience the varied motif-weaving of the main melody. The sign sounds once again, then for a short part Beethoven reprises a section of the main melody.


The concluding section is introduced by violin passages. It is extremely poetic; it emenates endless peace, tranquility just like the whole music of the movement.



IV. movement: Finale, with choir


Movement form: free variational movement.

The movement’s tempo designations are varied. A new tempo designation for each variation.

Time signatures are also varied.


In this movement of the symphony the solo singers (soprano, contralto, tenor, bass) and the choir are given an significant part. Of course this is not an oratorio.


The movement’s only musical theme is the so called “Ode to Joy”. According to musical history, its melody was inspired by F. Schiller’s (1759-0805) “Ode to Joy”, which Beethoven read when he was young.


It is interesting how we reach the melody of the Ode to Joy. Beethoven composes it in the introductory music – seemingly before us – with the involvement of the listener. He reminiscences the beginning of the themes’ melody from the previous movements, until finally he finds the searched melody, which I’ve marked with a capital “O” (ode) within the analysis.




The introductory section of the movement

begins with the fanfare-motif. (Fanfare music traditionally sounds at the beginning of ceremonies; just think of the Olympic Games. It was also the same in antiquity, e.g. at a Roman victory march - fanfare

After, “recitativo” sounds on deep string instruments. Both the fanfare-motif and the recitative are repeated. Although the recitativo is a singing technique, Beethoven applies it to instruments.



a style of delivery (much used in operas, oratorios, and cantatas) in which a singer is allowed to adopt the rhythms of ordinary speech, while the melody of the speech follows the music”


Then Beethoven reminiscences for but a moment the fall-motif of first movement’s (allegro) first theme, – after, we hear recitative, which stops the melody that has begun.


Then the first theme of the second movement (vivace) begins, – but it is also stopped by the recitative.


The same happens with the third movement’s (adagio) main melody; it hardly begins when it is stopped by the recitative. Let us observe how this time the sounding of the recitative is softer!


Then – in piano – sounds the beginning of the ode to joy, which the recitativo approves, meaning that Beethoven (and the listener as well) have found the searched melody, which sounds in its whole later.

The introductory section is concluded by two orchestral chords and a short orchestral pause, the general pause.



1/ First section of the movement


After the orchestral pause the ode to joy’s melody sounds in bass, whioch is divided in three: A-B-B, more precisely: AA AB AB. This is in fact the introduction of the ode to joy’s melody. It couldn’t be simpler. It’s not exultant, but it silently emanates joy, that feels to come from infinity. It is a crowd-song like melody, meaning that everyone can sing it after one hearing.


Next we hear the first variation. The melody sounds on violins and cellos.


The following second variation is similar to the previous one. The melody now sounds only on violins.


The third variation sounds with a shrill march-like dynamism on the whole orchestra, shining in its full bright; here we now hear real bass supporting harmony.


From the last bar of the ode to joy Beethoven composes a motif called ode-motif. (This motif appears in the transition sections on the orchestra after the fourth, fith and ninth variations.)

The fabric of music thickens, the melody line elevates, then in the concluding part, next to the ode-motif a new motif appears, which creates a mood of anticipation in us, the listeners; we anticipate that some kind of change is bound to happen in the music.


The first three variations form a larger structural unit that we called the first section of the movement, in which solely the orchestra plays. There isn’t a trace of singing or choirs. Although variations sounded, the melody line remained intact.


2/ The second section


The second section is the section of choir variations; it begins with the fanfare-motif, after which the baritone-singer enters with the solo of  “Oh Freunde, nicht diese Töne! Sondern lasst uns angenehmere und freudenvollere!”. The sound of singing connects the previously heard three orchestral variations with the choir variation beginning now.


In the fourth variation first the baritone solo, then the choir sings.


In the fifth variation first the solo singers sing, then the choir sings through two verses of the ode to joy.


In the sixth variation Beethoven breaks the melody into figurations; again performed by the solo and the choir. Then the section is concluded: in this section the choir sings e.g. “Und der Cherub steht vor Gott” verse line. We again feel that some change is bound to happen.

As we discussed earlier, after the fourth and fifth variation there is a transition, which is the motif of the ode to joy’s last bar.


3/ The third section


This section begins with an introductory rhythm-formula.


The important element in the mentioned change at the end of the second section is the tempo change. This is realized in the seventh variation. We hear the ode to joy’s march-like variation, which is also army-like and masculine. This is proven by the entry of the tenor solo, and that in the choir only the men are singing. The variation ends with a short concluding-transition section which begins with the words “Freudig, freudig…”.


The eigth variation sounds on orchestra as a freely developed “fugato”. the melody is accompanied by a constant counter-point, which is played on second violins, horns and clarinets. The dynamics become stronger, the fabric of music thickens. The transition section after the variation induces an anticipating mood: what comes next? – we could ask.


In the followings the ode of joy begins silently, then the whole orchestra along with the choir presents the ode of joy’s ninth variation in fortissimo. This variation may remind us of Händel’s highly influential choirmusic. Its sounding is glorious and exultant, it sounds in fortissimo throughout; it suggests that we have reached the end of the symphony, but this is not the case.


Interlude. After a transition and an orchestral pause significant changes are made regarding sounding and tempo. The principal sign of change is the new theme, the new orchestral mood, which is religious-like: here and there it reminds of Gregorian elements. We may observe the Palestrina-style and sounding, then Bach’s chorale harmony. All these give an archaic shade to the music. – Palestrina


The poam’s lines are about millions of people. And its message could have had a great influence on Beethoven, who composed this staggering piece of music. this part of the movement is qualified as an interlude, because it’s in no connection with the ode to joy’s melody.


Under the solemnly flowing singing voices fast paced violin parts play without disturbing the harmony of the music. The beauty of the music can be described with one word: “heavenly”. As if the music would lead us to space and its atmosphere, the endless empire of stars, where “He” resides; can you feel it, people? It can be truly felt!


In the tenth variation after the slowly flowing harmonies an energetic, wildly galloping, fast-paced development follows.

In this variation the melody of the interlude and the ode to joy is developed in a double fugue. Each theme is present with their own lyrics in the parts of the choir. The dynamics are energetic, forte from the beginning.

A transition follows the variation, for which Beethoven freely chose the lyrics from the verses of the ode to joy.





The coda’s role is to summarize and conclude. It can be divided into two parts.


1.     The first section begins with a fast-paced violinpassage, then the solos start to sing. (Here the following lyrics are sang: Freunde! Tochter aus Elysium! – repeated three more times.)

After, accompanied by the orchestra the choir sings about the thought of fraternity present in the second verse of the ode to joy; a highlighted new motif of this section is the melody of the line “Alle Menschen werden Brümen”.


Then the solos singing follow. The four singing voice concludes the melody unified in a single harmony, identifying with the lyrics’ message. The sounding is poetic, sublime. A short orchestral pause marks the end of the first section.


2./ The second section is the concluding section. The tempo increases, the dynamics become stronger. This melody is the raging version of the interlude’s melody.


While in the tenth variation the mood is humble, pious, here the music is about the abandoned rejoice of happiness, the praise and apotheosis of joy. so the most important message of the concluding section is thought of fraternity unifying millions of people and the glorification of joy.

The fast tempo comes to a sudden stop at the words “Tochter aus Elysium!”, then the tempo increases even more, and in an unstoppable blare of glorious chords resounding on the whole orchestra conclude the movement, as well as the symphony.




I n  w o r d s


The IX. symphony is the greatest masterpiece of musical arts of all times. “The hymnic music of joy, from which emanates the love towards humanity with immesurable force; it conquers the hearts of nation evermore.” – writes Bence Szabolcsi musicologist.


Its opening performance was held at the Kärtnerthor-Theater in Wien on the 7th of May, 1824. This was Beethoven’s last big composer night. Three passages from Missa Solemnis and Op. 115. Name day were played as well.


Beethoven composed the symphony for two years, but its preparations in fact required one and a half decade. In 1793 (at the age of 23) Beethoven had already read F. Schiller’s (1759-1805) “Ode to joy”, and possibly he had already decided to set it to music. He found the ultimate solution in the melody of Ode to joy. (Schiller wrote the poem in 1785; Beethoven was 15 years old then.)


Within this symphony, and also within Missa Solemnis and the last string quartet is where all of Beethoven’s experience in his creative work is summarized, and something else beyond, which we call: ingenuity.


An interesting quote from P. Bekker (German composer and critic, 1882-1937):

“If Beethoven were to die in 1813, it could have been proven crystal clear, that we wouldn’t have lost anything with his death, since he had already composed everything he was meant to compose.”


Three years after presenting the symphony Beethoven passed away. The IX. symphony was his last. Now, two hundred years later, are we able to give satisfactory answers to the questions regarding this symphony:


Is it a symphonic summary of his art?

Is it farewell from life?

Is it the glorification, the proclamation of the joy of life?


Maybe it is all of them, maybe none.

It is much more the committed artist’s gratification of a desire to create, driven by the wish to fulfill Nature’s command. Beethoven had came with a quest, that he fulfilled. Somewhere he was given the task to compose this symphony, and many more pieces of music. He was concerned about several compositions, several plans even on his deathbed.


Musical specialist books primarily deal with the compositions’ analysis in terms of musical theory. There’s hardly anything about what the unexperienced listener would like to know:


What is this symphony about? What is its message?

What does this message mean for people living today?


The symphony /and of course any other great work of art/ arouse different thoughts, and they can be explained and understood in several ways:


-         it can be viewed in connection with a literary piece,

-         we may turn to philosophy for help in understanding,

-         we can search for the essence of its message in Beethoven’s personality (on the basis of his biography, speeches, letters, statements),

-         we can draw ideas from antiquity, history, or The Bible,

-         or we can approach it uniquely: either through cold reason, or through warm emotions, and so on.




About each movement


The I. symphony.


It is a general rule that among the symphony’s movements the first is the most important, the base, on which the other movements are built. It has a significant influence on the other three movements even if they are different in xcharacter and style. As we know in case of content the first movement is dramatic, the second is lyrical, the third is merry, joyous, and the fourth is the fortunate resolution; just as the audience would have expected a happy ending from the authors in the golden age of Italian comic operas.


Of course there is no need to search for a connection between the movements, since these are not operas, where the second act cannot be understood without the first, and the third act without the second. Each movement of the symphonies are somewhat independent, where the aim is the realization of content and form on the highest possible level.


After this brief discussion, and mainly if we have listened to each movement and the whole symphony several times, we can feel how the first movement has a dramatic tone, mood; the word “demonic” is also often used to describe it. - demon.


Just as the first movement of the III. and V. symphony, this movement is also about the struggling men; about the various struggles and battles in life. It is about the ability to fight, about the battles fought for justice and freedom, but also about failures and defeats, and that the desire for justice and freedom within a human heart is unquenchable. It is about the unbreakable will of men, about heroes who oppose tyranny, injustice, and who are always prepared to act and fight for a better, happier future.


The Greek already claimed that no man can live his life without worries and problems – we can also add: and without struggling. Many claim that life’s goal is to struggle. Sulla, Lucius Cornelius (138-78 BC), the most powerful dictator of ancient times also thought the same.


At about the end of the movement Beethoven for a moment reminiscences a few passages of the funeral-march from the VII. symphony’s II. movement, maybe to remember and honor those heroes who had fallen in battle. (This is of course only an assumption, but after so many explanations of the movements and melodies that I took the liberty of creating my own. You may – of course – disagree!)


It is without doubt that music primarily affects our senses, but it also has an effect on our way of thinking, and also on our will. I wrote a few personal thoughts about this before, how I feel about it, but it is obvious that there are different opinions and that is natural. As justice has several paths, we cannot monopolize it, it is not only “I” who own it.



The II. movement.


Beethoven’s longest scherzo movement – overall 16 minutes – is built on three melodies: the first and second themes (melodies) of the scherzo and the trio’s melody. The II. movement begins with a rhythm-motif of three drum beats; we have discussed this in the analysis. This motif is there throughout the scherzo’s music, it rules it just as the music of the splashing brook in the VI. symphony’s II. movement, or the beating-motif of the IV. symphony’s II. movement. 

The music summons the mood of dancing and celebration.

If it’s true that the main characteristic of the classical music language is motif-weaving, then here the “dactyl-motif” as rhythm is “woven” under the movement’s music and between the bars.


The middle part, the trio – after the scherzo – is like when after a raging storm sunlight fills the landscape. The music’s mood is idyllic, completele different than that of the scherzo. By the way, Beethoven does not call the movement scherzo, he was satisfied by the tempo designation: Molto vivace.


Beethoven is the master of repetitions, the trio melody is repeated twenty-three times, yet it is not boring. The trio’s orchestration, the “orchestral gown” is extremely beautiful. The music is enchanting, magical. Here Beethoven affects us with tones and harmonies instead of rhythm. The sounding is shining, the melody is warm and updrift. Let us also observe that the trio’s melody is staccato (interrupted), while the transition’s music sounds in legato (bound, continuously). It is to no avail: the principle of contrast is present here as well, which is not only the fundamental principle of  European philosophical thinking but also of classical music, and it is primarily powerful in dynamics. Many claim that Beethoven used the fundamental theory of thesis-antithesis-synthesis earlier than G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831), who is the greatest among European classical philosophers..



The III. movement.


Two melodies sound within the movement.

The melody of the Adagio /with an Adagio molto e cantabile tempo designation/ is sad, like a lamentation.

The melody of the episode’s theme /tempo designation: Andante moderato/ – is consoling, and at the same time seeking peace and tranquility.    


Indeed. While the symphony’s first movement is about the struggles of life, and the second is about the bustling world of life, here the harmonies of silence, peace and tranquility rule.


Beyond that the movement’s music seeks peace and tranquility, it also truly and accurately presents Beethoven’s feeling and state of mind. The composer had already passed the struggles of his life and achieved success; he wishes peace, the peace of the soul; perhaps the ebst word to describe this feeling is nirvana”.

Due to his deafness he left the people, he didn’t go out, he didn’t get visitors, more and more people left him in turn, and he was being forgotten; French opera is now the center of attention in Wien. He once remarked bitterly, how his pieces are no longer played, how no one is interested in them anymore.


The world closed around him twice: he was deaf and lonely. He lived alone, had no family, wife, children. He kept in touch with the outside world through notes. In his last years he often moved (from apartment to apartment). He was often deceived, no one cared for him, and his appearance was neglected. The Wien police once arrested him while he was on his evening walk because they thought him to be a loafer. However hard we may try we couldn’t possibly imagine his everyday concerns, his situation, state of mind, and how it felt to be disregarded.


At the same time, however, he reached such heights, where he was alone; there are no comrades, no one to share his life, art and thoughts with. In this movement the music sounds also about complaints, but not demanding, mutinous, like from youngsters; not even cursing, grabbing fate by the throat as in the V. symphony; instead he views the world, his fate with wise serenity, with tranquility of a peaceful heart and soul; he continues to write scores.


The music here also speaks about the grief of a lonely soul; not about despair, disappointment, but about the soul that has been empowered by the tiring struggles he had been through; it proclaims its elevation with the peace and experience of the wise.


Beethoven not only pours his own feelings, griefs, complaints, but all the feelings of those who live, struggle, work, suffer, love and enjoy life. he seeks the peace that everyone desires in this troubled life. Therefore do not think for a moment that the composer pours only his own feelings, mood and grief into the music, and transmits it to the audience (however this is also true); just the opposite: he lifts the listenners’ emotions closer to reality, through music’s enchanting power. Words are incapable of this, only music can express it; solely because there are no proper words to express feelings, we cannot put them to words.


When I write these lines I am over 70 yerars old, and it seems that my concerns only grow, there is no rest; life is more and more restless, not only around me, but also in my country and in the world, and I cannot hope for days more tranquil. Yet, when I listen to this movement my soul finds peace, I am relaxed by the sounds of music and an unusual calmness fills me, which consoles and lifts me, gives me strength for the next day, for new fights, for the meaning of life and for my existence.


George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) English dramatist, novelist, critic expresses it more beautifully: “…without fear he opened his heart, and by doing so expressed us, ordinary people.”


The lines of the writer of Révai Nagy Lexikon are really apt, and they suit the musical content of the I. and III. movement so well; pages could be written about this, but not more concisely, more beautifully! The sentence is of the whole symphony, but its first half is the truest for the I. movement, and its second half is the truest for the III. movement. “It expresses the struggles of a heart, as among many worries it desires the ray of joy.” (II. volume – 1911)


Perhaps, however, it is He, who put to words essence of his artistic quest, his fate the best in only three words, which he wrote in Countess Erdõdy’s album:


       Durch Leiden Freude.               Joy, at the cost of suffering.




IV. movement


A cruicial change happens in the IV. movement’s music. Beethoven passes the centuries old world of form and introduces human sound, singing, so he can express the last big and burning confession of his art clearly for “everyone”, for “every listener”.


Many disapproved of a choir to be introduced to symphonic music, they considered it a mistake. Almost two hundred years passed since, and it’s more and more obvious, that Beethoven was right after all.

Musicographers also consider that the IX. symphony is a less unified composition, because in the structure of a symphony the movements should be more closely connected to each other. Beethoven was aware of this, and this is why in the IV. movement he reminiscences the main themes of the first three movements, until he finally finds the melody of the ode to joy.


The symphony is popular all around the world, it is performed more and more, and it is known for and increasing number of people. Thanks to Pablo Casals’, the world famous cellist’s suggestion, since 1958 the IX. symphony is broadcast by radio- and television stations on the 31st of December in the same hour in the five major cities representing the five continents. In the piece proclaiming the brotherhood of the nations, in the last movement – in the melody written to Schiller’s Ode to Joy – Beethoven proclaims and sends the message of his music to all humanity: “Be embraced, millions! / This kiss to the entire world!” (The best last will ever written!)


The IV. movement’s music requires no particular explanation. Schiller’s lines and Beethoven’s music are in perfect harmony with each other, proclaiming the joy of life. It also sends another message, the togetherness of world’s nations, the thought of brotherhood, just as how the thinkers of the French enlightenment have done. It is therefore not a coincidence, that this symphony was given the name “The symphony of brotherhood”; although we call it the Ode to Joy.


Many also claim that Beethoven thanks the Maker with the melody of the ode to joy for allowing him to fulfill his quest; he also thanks the almighty FATE for letting him accomplish to fulfill his art, and to present his works to humanity. Let us think for but a moment about his last will written when he was 32, in which he considers suicide because of his worsening hearing.  



Was Beethoven unhappy, or happy?


today, when we have don’t have enough time for seemingly anything, we have even less time for listening to and examining music, if any at all; thus who hadn’t read or heard, probably do not know that:


When Beethoven was composing the IX. symphony…


§  he lived his daily life among unworthy, inhuman, adverse circumstances; bluntly: he lived in filth,

§  we know from his biography that in his last years he often moved (moved to a new apartment)


Is he unhappy?


Left to his fate, deaf and old, forgotten by Wien and the world, with neglected appearance and clothing, struggling with illness – yet he works, creates…

Composes the IX. symphony for humanity…



Before him is Schiller’s poem, he opens his arm:


Joy, beautiful sparkle of the gods,

Daughter of Elysium,

We enter, fire-drunk,

Heavenly one, your shrine.

Your magics bind again

What custom's sword has parted.

Beggars become princes' brothers

Where your tender wing lingers.”



He pours the poem’s thought into music, forgetting earthly life’s petty, but worrying nuisances…


On the swift wings of his thoughts he explores art’s endless world, where…


his artistic spirit happily sojourns in the warmth of the “beautiful sparkle of the gods” and at the thoughts of “brotherhood”.


He hopes for a free and more beautiful future for humanity.


He is happy.





Fridrich Schiller


Ode to Joy




Joy, beautiful sparkle of the gods,

Daughter of Elysium,

We enter, fire-drunk,

Heavenly one, your shrine.

Your magics bind again

What custom's sword has parted.

Beggars become princes' brothers

Where your tender wing lingers.


From the fiery mirror of truth

She smiles upon the researcher,

Towards virtue’s steep hill

She guides the endurer’s path.

Upon faith’s sunlit mountain

One sees her banners in the wind,

Through the opening of burst coffins

One sees them standing in the chorus of angels.

Be embraced, millions!

This kiss to the entire world!

Brothers, above the starry canopy

Must a loving Father reside.



Endure courageously, millions!

Endure for the better world!

There above the starry canopy

A great God will reward.


Whoever has succeeded in the great attempt

To be a friend's friend;

Whoever has won a lovely woman

Add in his jubilation!

Yes, who calls even one soul

His own on the earth's sphere!

And whoever never could achieve this,

Let him steal away crying from this gathering!


Gods one cannot repay

Beautiful it is, to be like them.

Grief and poverty, acquaint yourselves

With the joyful ones rejoice.

Anger and revenge be forgotten,

Our deadly enemy be forgiven,

No tears shall he shed

No remorse shall gnaw at him

Those who occupy the great circle,

Pay homage to sympathy!

It leads to the stars

Where the unknown one reigns.



Our debt registers be abolished

Reconcile the entire world!

Brothers, over the starry canopy

God judges, as we judged.



All creatures drink joy

At the breasts of nature,

All good, all evil

Follow her trail of roses.

Kisses she gave us, and the vine,

A friend, proven in death.

Pleasure was given to the worm,

And the cherub stands before God.


Joy bubbles in the cup,

In the grape’s golden blood

Cannibals drink gentleness

The fearful, courage --

Brothers, fly from your perches,

When the full cup is passed,

Let the foam spray to the heavens

This glass to the good spirit

Do you fall down, you millions?

Do you sense the creator, world?

Seek him above the starry canopy,

Above the stars he must live.



He whom the spirals of stars praise,

He whom the seraphim’s hymn glorifies,

This glass to the good spirit

Above the starry canopy!



Joy is the name of the strong spring

In eternal nature.

Joy, joy drives the wheels

In the great clock of worlds.

She lures flowers from the buds,

Suns out of the firmament,

She rolls spheres in the spaces

That the seer's telescope does not know.


Courage firm in great suffering,

Help there, where innocence weeps,

Eternally sworn oaths,

Truth towards friend and foe,

Mens’ pride before kings’ thrones --

Brothers, even if it costs property and blood, --

The crowns to those who earn them,

Defeat to the lying brood!

Happy, as his suns fly

Through the heaven’s magnificent plain

Run, brothers, your track

Joyfully, as a hero to victory.

Close the holy circle tighter,

Swear by this golden vine:

Remain true to the vows,

Swear by the judge above the stars!




Translation from German (Deutsch) to English

copyright © 2004 by John Glenn Paton 






archaic gr-lat 1. ancient, age-old, of antiquity 2. art in Greek arts – dating from the period before the middle 5th century B.C; initial, early; antiquated  in the text the word is used in the meaning of the underlined words  < back


demon gr-lat – in the mythology of some natural people being that control godly powers but are inferior to gods. < back


fanfare frlong, straight trumpet-like instrument < back


nirvana  ind – 1. in Buddhist religion it is the cease of all desire and pain, the escape from reincarnation by merging with the universe, the disappearance of the individual soul and the state of greatest happiness

2. total annihilation, the opposite of existence, not existing,

when using the word I primarily mean undisturbed peace, being reconciled with one’s fate < back


Palestrina, Giovanni Pierluigi da – excellent musicologists /1525 – 1594/, a crowning, summarizing artist; his six-part masses, his music is clearly the climax of vocal literature; in schools of music the Palestrina-style is taught even today; of course he composed non-religious pieces as well /madrigals/.- < back


refrain fr – lit., music – more or less unaltered, reaccuring line(s) or melody-parts at the end of a poem’s/song’s sections < back