Saturday, October 31, 2009

File under: "Joy, Ode to"

Oh, joy! My iTunes was set to shuffle (that's on my Mac, not on my nonexistent iPod), and as I sat at my desk doing tedious things, I heard in a felicitous moment the tentative opening piano chords of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy. Listen here. It's sort of a run-up to the Symphony No. 9, with a simple, anthemic tune articulated first by the piano, then by the orchestra, then taken up by a solo vocal quartet, and finally by the entire chorus. The text is not unlike Schiller's, extolling the joys of brotherhood and the arts. It is a marvelous piece, and fills one with sheer delight at being human. I love Beethoven's use of the piano, which gives a sense of intimacy to a full-scale orchestral/choral work.

I remember checking a recording of the Choral Fantasy out of the local library when my son was a tiny baby, and how, in the the loneliness of being home alone with a newborn in the darkest winter, the strains of Beethoven made me feel connected to the stream of humanity in a way that nearly brought me to my knees.

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