Conducted by Claudio Abbado, one of the most celebrated and respected conductors of the 20th century, the Berliner Philharmoniker (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) with Swedish Radio Choir and Eric Ericson Chamber Choir performs Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, also known as the “Choral”, the final symphony of the German composer. Chorus Master: Tonu Kaljuste. Philharmonie, Berlin, May 1st, 2000. Enjoy.
Philharmonie, Berlin, 1 May 2000
Berliner Philharmoniker (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) conducted by Claudio Abbado
Swedish Radio Choir
Eric Ericson Chamber Choir
Chorus Master: Tonu Kaljuste
Soloists: Karita Mattila (soprano), Violeta Urmana (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Moser (tenor), Eike Wilm Schulte (baritone).
The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (sometimes known simply as “the Choral”), is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven (17 December 1770-26 March 1827). Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best-known works of the repertoire of classical music. Among critics, it is almost universally considered to be among Beethoven’s greatest works, and is considered by some to be the greatest piece of music ever written.
The symphony was the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony (thus making it a choral symphony). The words are sung during the final movement by four vocal soloists and a chorus. They were taken from the “Ode to Joy”, a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803, with additions made by the composer. Today, it stands as one of the most played symphonies in the world.
In 2002, Beethoven’s autograph score of the Ninth Symphony, held by the Berlin State Library, was added to the United Nations World Heritage List, becoming the first musical score to be so honored.
The symphony is in four movements, marked as follows:
- Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
- Scherzo: Molto vivace – Presto
- Adagio molto e cantabile – Andante moderato – Tempo primo – Andante moderato – Adagio – Lo stesso tempo
- Recitative: (Presto – Allegro ma non troppo – Vivace – Adagio cantabile – Allegro assai – Presto: O Freunde) – Allegro molto assai: Freude, schöner Götterfunken – Alla marcia – Allegro assai vivace: Froh, wie seine Sonnen – Andante maestoso: Seid umschlungen, Millionen! – Adagio ma non troppo, ma divoto: Ihr, stürzt nieder – Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato: (Freude, schöner Götterfunken – Seid umschlungen, Millionen!) – Allegro ma non tanto: Freude, Tochter aus Elysium! – Prestissimo, Maestoso, Molto prestissimo: Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Lyrics of the fourth movement
O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern lasst uns angenehmere anstimmen,
Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.
Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!
Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bösen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
Und der Cherub steht vor Gott.
Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt’gen Plan,
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.
Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über’m Sternenzelt
Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen.
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such’ ihn über’m Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muss er wohnen.
Oh friends, not these sounds!
Let us instead strike up more pleasing
and more joyful ones!
Joy, beautiful spark of divinity,
Daughter from Elysium,
We enter, burning with fervour,
heavenly being, your sanctuary!
Your magic brings together
what fashion has sternly divided.
All men shall become brothers,
wherever your gentle wings hover.
Whoever has been lucky enough
to become a friend to a friend,
Whoever has found a beloved wife,
let him join our songs of praise!
Yes, and anyone who can call one soul
his own on this earth!
Any who cannot, let them slink away
from this gathering in tears!
Every creature drinks in joy
at nature’s breast;
Good and Bad alike
follow her trail of roses.
She gives us kisses and wine,
a true friend, even in death;
Even the worm was given desire,
and the cherub stands before God.
Gladly, just as His suns hurtle
through the glorious universe,
So you, brothers, should run your course,
joyfully, like a conquering hero.
Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss is for the whole world!
Brothers, above the canopy of stars
must dwell a loving father.
Do you bow down before Him, you millions?
Do you sense your Creator, o world?
Seek Him above the canopy of stars!
He must dwell beyond the stars.
Eric Gustaf Ericson (26 October 1918 – 16 February 2013) was a Swedish choral conductor and influential choral teacher.
Renowned for his innovative teaching methods and the wide-ranging nature of his repertoire, Ericson was the principal conductor of the Orphei Drängar choir at Uppsala University from 1951 until 1991, and choirmaster until 1982 of the Swedish Radio Choir which was established on his initiative in 1951. Also in 1951, he began his teaching career at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, where he became a legendary and inspirational figure, and he was appointed to the chair of choral conducting there in 1968.
He won the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1995, and in 1997 Ericson shared the Polar Music Prize with Bruce Springsteen: the citation was for “pioneering achievements as a conductor, teacher, artistic originator and inspirer in Swedish and international choral music”. On the occasion of his 80th birthday in 1998, Swedbank of Sweden endowed an “Eric Ericson Chair in Choral Directing” at Uppsala University.
He founded the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, and worked as a guest conductor for many ensembles and choirs including Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble (Bach’s Passions), Netherlands Chamber Choir (Poulenc), Chœur de chambre Accentus, Paris (Finnish works).