The 'Ode To Joy' As A Call To Action | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

The 'Ode To Joy' As A Call To Action

Play associated audio

Kerry Candaele says he remembers exactly where he was when he first heard Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. He was in his 20s at the time, in the 1970s, driving up the California coast in a car he'd borrowed from a friend. He popped in a cassette he found, and what he heard both shocked him and transported him.

Now, Candaele has turned his obsession with Beethoven's Ninth into a documentary film: Following the Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven's Final Symphony. He follows the Ninth around the world, to Chile and China, where it became an empowering anthem of solidarity, and to Japan, where performances of daiku — the Great Nine — are a cherished annual tradition.

"The Japanese identified with Beethoven," Candaele says. "You know, the quintessential romantic figure of Beethoven as this man who is tortured and struggles and overcomes and finally reaches this pinnacle of artistic creation with the Ninth Symphony — his final symphony — three years before he dies. "It became this yearly event where sometimes 5,000 people, sometimes 10,000 people, who have practiced singing in German for six months, stand together in December and sing the 'Ode to Joy.'"

Candaele, who also co-wrote a book on the topic with Greg Mitchell, recently spoke with NPR's Melissa Block about the winding journey of Beethoven's Ninth. Candaele recounts the Ninth's history — from its use by Tiananmen Square protesters to drown out government broadcasts to its appropriation by the Third Reich as a triumphalist German anthem — as well as his own thoughts on Beethoven's intentions for the music. Hear more of their conversation at the audio link.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'The Bishop's Wife' Tracks A Killer In A Mormon Community

The mystery about the disappearance of a young Mormon woman was inspired by a real-life story. Author Mette Ivie Harrison talks about her own struggles with faith and stereotypes of Mormon mothers.
NPR

Nutmeg Spice Has A Secret Story That Isn't So Nice

Nutmeg is a feel-good holiday spice. But it once caused serious bloodshed and may have even been a reason the Dutch were willing to part with Manhattan in the 1600s.
WAMU 88.5

Special Prosecutors Should Handle Civilian Shootings By Police, Holmes Norton Says

Norton says mayors and governors could stem anger over civilian shootings by police by appointing special prosecutors to handle them.
NPR

Facebook Finds That Not All Users Like The 'Year In Review' App

The social media giant's "Year in Review" app has upset some who prefer to forget 2014's unpleasant memories.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.