Virtual Music Hour

  Beethoven 9 Archive

  Introduction to Beethoven Symphony No. 9

  Listen to the Music

Movement 1

Movement 2

Movement 3

Movement 4A

Movement 4B


Welcome to Virtual Music Hour. In preparation for your listening experience, Assistant Principal Violist Catherine Beeson has made guides with activities that can be enjoyed alone, with your quarantine buddies at home and online, or with your students. These activities can be mixed, matched, and altered to create an experience that’s right for you, or as inspiration to create your own. Get as creative as you’d like. Share it with us on social media! If you like seeing and hearing the Colorado Symphony musicians online, imagine how uplifting it would be for us to see and hear you too!

Ludwig van Beethoven’s astonishing Symphony No. 9 is widely recognized as his most popular and frequently performed work. In the 2019 and 2020 Seasons, covering Beethoven’s 250th birth year, countless performances of Symphony No. 9 were scheduled to be presented around the globe. This included a massive undertaking by Colorado Symphony Conductor Laureate Marin Alsop to collaboratively perform the work on six of the seven continents, with added contemporary texts and the original text sung in the native language of each location. This colossal work of art and its message of unity and brotherhood will continue to stand the test of time in part due to Beethoven’s authenticity and drive as a creative artist despite consistent devastating obstacles in his life. Settle in and let yourself be transported to a place of resilience and faith in the best of humanity with this performance by your Colorado Symphony.

  Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 was composed between 1822-1824 and premiered that same year in Vienna. Though he conducted the premiere, he was unable to hear any of it clearly due to his advanced hearing loss and was frequently “off” from the musicians, who instead watched a second conductor for important cues.

  Symphony No. 9 takes 70-74 minutes to perform and is in four movements - the famous “Ode to Joy” final movement taking a full 25 minutes.

  Symphony No. 9 was immediately notable for its unusual use of vocal soloists and a chorus. Other notable elements include the first use of piccolo, contrabassoon, and trombones in symphonic literature.

  Many other composers paid homage to this great piece by quoting or incorporating material from the symphony into their works. In his first symphony, Johannes Brahms composed a beautiful melody which leaned so heavily on the Ode to Joy theme that it was often mockingly referred to as “Beethoven’s Tenth”.

  CDs, those quaint tiny plastic “records” of the 80s and 90s, were engineered to hold 74 minutes of music based on the timing of the longest existing Symphony No. 9 recording at the time.

  The “Ode to Joy” portion of Symphony No. 9 has been the European Anthem since 1972. Fun fact - your Colorado Symphony made a socially distanced recording of the Herbert von Karajan arrangement during quarantine in March 2020 which has been viewed nearly 800,000 times across all channels. Watch and listen below from YouTube:

  Beethoven’s score calls for 2 flutes and piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons and contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, violins, violas, cellos, and basses, plus a full chorus and soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone vocal soloists.

Here is a listening map that can guide you through your listening experience. Read it in advance or while you’re listening!

Movements 1 – 3

The first three movements of this work are an incredible introduction to the final movement, in which the major thematic material of each of the previous movements is reviewed before launching into an all-out celebration of the 1785 “Ode to Joy” text by Friedrich Schiller.

Beethoven dealt with consistent adversity throughout his life. Resilience and gratitude became a recurring theme in his composition as well.

  How do you express resilience and gratitude?

  What creative activities do you engage in to relieve stress or give yourself space to think? Journaling, volunteering, cooking, tinkering, gardening, inventing new ways to do old things?

Take some time to consider how you practice creativity in your daily life and how that practice connects you to humanity and community. You and Beethoven have a lot more in common than you might have thought!

  Extra credit reading recommendation on this topic: “The Everyday Work of Art: Awakening the Extraordinary in Your Daily Life” by Eric Booth

Do you have a favorite poem, inspirational speech, or quote? Think about how you would set it to music! Beethoven set a portion of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” to a variety of styles of music, some of it hymn-like, some of it a jovial dance, some of it a rollicking party.

  What styles of music might reflect all the different ways you feel connected to the central message of your chosen text?

  What styles of music might bring new or different meaning to the text?

Have some fun experimenting with your ideas!

Now that you’ve had a chance to consider, discuss, and get active around Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 it’s time to listen to the Colorado Symphony performance. There are all sorts of ways to engage as a listener, especially when listening at home instead of the concert hall. Now is your chance to sing loudly along with the chorus!! Not a German speaker? No problem! Just give it a try and let yourself be silly if necessary. Wear a tux or a fancy gown! Lean into it! Soon enough we will be back in the concert hall and you’ll have the memory of your living room star turn antics to bring an extra huge smile to your face while you’re listening to it live and in person.



Please share your musical adventure with us through social media! We would love to hear about it or see any of your activities, journaling, or creations!


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