The Ode to happiness was adopted by the board of directors of Europe as its anthem in 1972. Thirteen year later, in 1985, it came to be the official anthem that the european Community, and of that is successor, the european Union.

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But what specifically is the Ode come Joy? These are five an essential facts around Beethoven’s masterpiece.

First of all, naturally, it’s a well known musical piece: the song is the prelude come the fourth – and also final – activity of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, very first performed in Vienna in 1824. It’s a tune around peace: Ode to Joy represents the triumph of global brotherhood versus war and desperation. Indeed, Beethoven himself put to music a poem that praises and also wishes because that freedom and peace between all peoples.

Secondly, it’s the europe anthem. once the board of directors of Europe chose to take on it, though, that opted no to incorporate the original lyrics, to avoid privileging a single European language, German, to the hinderance of all others. Nevertheless, over there are numerous unofficial adaptations in different languages; in specific the Latin and also Esperanto variation aim to overcome the limits of nationwide borders.

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“Ode to Joy”, Schiller’s manuscript

Thirdly, “Ode come Joy” is also a poem composed by Friedrich Schiller in 1785, whose initial title is An dice Freude (“To Joy” in German). Beethoven actually supplied a posthumous revised version for writing his lyrics. Funnily enough, also if the text was and still is fine known and beloved by many, in later on life Schiller express contempt for his work and also dismissed it as common «bad taste that the age».

The fact that Beethoven chose a message authored by Schiller no a coincidence: the composer was undoubtedly an admirer that the latter’s occupational as a philosopher. Beethoven is usually remembered for his musical work, however what is much less known around him is that he was a fervent idealist. In addition to Schiller, the other key authors who influenced Beethoven space Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Immanuel Kant.

Young Ludwig fell in love with the ideals of a higher morality, the sacredness that duty, and the conception of humans as free and rational individuals. It can be said that Symphony No. 9’s Ode to Joy completely reflects that is composer’s mindset.

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Portrait that Friedrich Schiller by Ludovike Simanowiz.

Symphony No. 9 is also Beethoven’s last finished symphony, and it’s substantially various from the eight that came before it. Every previous symphonies are characterized by a contrast in between two key themes, which typically portray two different forces. It deserve to be claimed that the composer put a piece of self in his work: Beethoven struggled between opposites transparent his life, balancing an imaginative independence against financial stability, or greater ideals against natural impulsiveness (did you know he changed more than 60 accommodations during the 35 years he resided in Vienna?).

Symphony No. 9, though, was written later in life. At that time Beethoven was fully deaf and also had gone v self-isolation, depression and also suicidal thoughts. He ultimately overcame his despair, yet he to be deeply changed by it. It is no simultaneous then that his most mature symphony doesn’t monitor his typical pattern that a clash in between two themes, rather a dialogue in between several themes and voices.

Curiously, we can see a metaphor for the europe Union in this. After ~ the horrors Europeans checked out upon themselves throughout the wars, specifically WWII, ultimately the nations of the Continent quit fighting each other, opening the way to dialogue. Us don’t recognize if the origins of Symphony No. 9 contributed to the choice of the Ode to joy as the european anthem, but they surely add to a how amazing layer of depth and also relevance.

Finally, it’s strange that the Ode to joy movement marks the first time a renowned composer used voices in a symphony. It was by all method an development for the era, however the doubters of the time weren’t for this reason favourable. Amongst others, Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi complained about the vocals in a letter to patron Clara Maffei, composing the symphony to be «marvelous in its very first three movements, really badly set in the last. No one will ever before surpass the sublimity the the very first movement, yet it will be an easy task to compose as badly for voices as is done in the critical movement».

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Nonetheless, the Ode to Joy, in addition to the entirety of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 became part of the UNESCO world social heritage in 2003. And by all metrics, it’s a good anthem for Europeans come have: us shall song it proudly, because Europeans can ultimately live as brothers and sisters, together Beethoven wished.