Every year during the holiday season, around 10000 Japanese choir and orchestra gather to perform Beethoven 9th Symphony. But why?
Beethoven’s 9th Symphony ending choir or beethoven “Ode To Joy” is deeply beloved by the Japanese people. They sometimes call it Daiku” or “Big Nine”. Yutaka Sado, the conductor of this 10000 Japanese choir, notes that this tradition began from the time of the First World War.
For, it was German prisoners of war who were heard singing the Ninth Symphony in captivity. The Germans and Japanese were enemies in the First World War. Since then, Sado says, the vibrant symphony has empowered Japanese people through good times and the bad. Today, it is sung as a way to honor achievement throughout the year. It has become a Japanese New Year tradition.
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By the time Beethoven’s final complete Symphony No. 9, with its huge ‘Ode to Joy’ climax, was premiered on 7 May 1824, the composer was profoundly deaf.
This Symphony is regarded by many critics and musicologists as one of Beethoven’s greatest works and one of the supreme achievements in the history of western music.In the 2010s, it stands as one of the most performed symphonies in the world.
The symphony was the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony. The words, which are sung during the final (4th) movement (also known as ‘Ode to Joy’ ) were taken from the “Ode to Joy”, a poem written by German poet and historian Friedrich Schiller, with text additions made by Beethoven.
This famous hymnal theme to Symphony No. 9 finale has symbolized hope, unity and fellowship – across borders and through conflicts. It is a masterful musical celebration of the human race and a massive work that makes all who hear it feel better about life. And yet, Beethoven himself never actually heard it.
10000 Japanese people singing the ending choir of Symphony No. 9 by Ludwig van Beethoven (Ode to Joy).
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