Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Night at the Symphony

You know when you're raising a Catholic boy when he turns to you and says, "Mom, I thought we weren't supposed to say 'alleluia' during Lent?"

Last night, I took Skipper on a date to the symphony orchestra to see Beethoven's 9th symphony. Prior to the 9th, the orchestra performed different pieces, one of which was the Hallelujah from Beethoven's Christ on the Mount of Olives. I am more familiar with Beethoven's instrumental work so this choral piece was a nice surprise, and now I want to hear the entire piece. According to the director, Beethoven's take on Christ's passion was interesting (compared to Bach, Mozart, etc.) because while the others chose to base their compositions on the gospels, Beethoven chose to go from the point of view of Christ himself. When I dug a little deeper, it appears that the composition also coincides with Beethoven's continuing deafness. Even more amazing, he wrote the entire piece (approximately 50 minutes long) in only a few short weeks!

Ignore my wonderful photography skills... We were up at the back of the balcony. On either side of the stage are huge paintings depicting each season. They are really neat, and Skipper liked them. The chandelier is just gorgeous.

The icing on the cake of the night was the performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, in particular the fourth and final movement (the one that most everyone has heard: most popularly known as Ode to Joy). Skipper was bouncing in his seat, his arms waving like a crazed director. As I looked at him, my own foot tapping enthusiastically, I thought, "how wonderful it is to be a child - to be so present, to love so hard, to be so happy, to be so enthusiastic." Of course, this also means to hurt so much, to feel so easily. But, as I looked around I found it amazing how still everyone was. Why weren't we jumping up and down? Or, at least moving our heads? This Ode to Joy simply bursts with joy, with the awesomeness of God. Oh, to be like Skipper!

Note: I did see one older lady whose head was nodding quite vigorously. ;)

While it pales in comparison, I wanted to share the translated lyrics with you today (written in German by Beethoven himself and Friedrich Schiller). And, here is a link that has a nice little piece on why this symphony is still such a mystery. You Tube video of the entire 9th. Or the full symphony using a scrolling bar-graph score which is neat. Check out Pope Benedict's reaction to Beethoven's 9th.

Oh friends, not these tones!
Rather, let us raise our voices in more pleasing
And more joyful sounds!
Joy! (Joy!)
Joy! (Joy!)

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods*
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly one, your sanctuary!
Your magic reunites
What custom strictly divided.
All men become brothers,
Where your gentle wing rests.

Whoever has had the great fortune
To be a friend's friend,
Whoever has won a devoted wife,
Join in our jubilation!
Indeed, whoever can call even one soul
His own on this earth!
And whoever was never able to, must creep
Tearfully away from this band!

Joy all creatures drink
At the breasts of nature;
All good, all bad
Follow her trail of roses.
Kisses she gave us, and vines,
A friend, proved to the end;
Pleasure was given to the worm,
And the cherub stands before God.
Before God!

Glad, as His suns fly
Through the Heaven's glorious design,
Run, brothers, your path,
Joyful, as a hero to victory.

Be embraced, millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Do you bow down, millions?
Do you sense the Creator, world?
Seek Him beyond the starry canopy!
Beyond the stars must He dwell.

Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the star-canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Be embraced,
This kiss for the whole world!
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods
Spark of the gods!


  1. How fun! I have always wanted to take my sons to the symphony.

    1. Thanks, Elisa! I loved going with just my one son. We all went as a family for a holiday pops and all enjoyed it. The most difficult thing is the time as the shows start at 7:30 which is the start of bed time for us. (And the cost, which starts to get expensive!)


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