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Beethoven: Ode to Joy (lyrics by Schiller) / John Waldo, guitar

2,088 views 4 months ago
Ode to Joy is the English translation of the German song "Ode an die Freude" composed by the poet Friedrich Schiller in 1785. The hymn is best known for its musical setting by Ludwig van Beethoven in the final movement of his Ninth Symphony, for four solo voices, chorus, and orchestra. The hymn was adopted as the Anthem of Europe by the Council of Europe in 1972, and subsequently the European Union.

"Ode An die Freude" lyrics by Friedrich Schiller
Ode to Joy (Translation in English)

"Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Thy sanctuary.
Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.

Whoever has created
An abiding friendship,
Or has won a true and loving wife,
Join in our song of praise,
Yes, all who can call at least one soul
Theirs upon this earth;
But any who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.

All creatures drink of joy
At nature's breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.
Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!

As His heavenly bodies fly
On their courses through the heavens,
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero going to conquest.

You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell.

"Ode to Joy" (German: "Ode an die Freude", first line: "Freude, schöner Götterfunken"), also called Hymn to Joy, is an ode written in 1785 by German poet, playwright and historian, Friedrich Schiller, who was enthusiastically celebrating the brotherhood and unity of all mankind. Schiller later made some small revisions to the poem when it was republished, and it was this latter version that forms the basis for Beethoven's famous setting. Despite the lasting popularity of the ode, Schiller himself regarded it as a failure later in his life, going so far as calling it "detached from reality" and "of value maybe for us two, but not for the world, nor for the art of poetry" in a letter to his long-time friend and patron Körner (whose friendship had originally inspired him to write the ode) that he wrote in the year 1800.
To the extent the foregoing account is true, it may be due to Schiller's having changed a key word out of fear. "Leonard Bernstein reminded his audiences, the poem was originally an 'Ode to Freedom' and the word 'Joy' (Freude instead of Freiheit, added to the third pillar, Freundschaft) came as a substitute for the more overtly political theme." However, despite widespread belief in this motive, there is no definite historical evidence or direct documentation of this particular change in the poem.

The ode is best known for its musical setting by Ludwig van Beethoven in the final movement of his Ninth Symphony (completed in 1824), a choral symphony for orchestra, four solo voices and choir. There are also many other musical settings, both before and after Beethoven's, of part or all of the poem. Show less
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