… a more magnificent piece of music than Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, played in it’s entirety, I don’t know what it is.
XM Radio Classics did a wonderful 1/2 hour introduction / lecture on the piece before hand, and then presented the entire symphony, on period instruments, beginning to end. I ended up driving past the house and up the highway again to catch the 4th movement without having to pause to put Zach to bed (we were on our way back from Maine).
During the intro, I had forgotten this bit of history. When the piece was first performed in Vienna in 1824, Beethoven’s hearing had deteriorated completely. He was completely deaf, and therefore never actually heard his masterpiece performed. As related on the wikipedia entry for the Ninth :
At the conclusion of the performance Beethoven had to be forcibly turned around to accept the audience’s cheers and applause According to one witness, “the public received the musical hero with the utmost respect and sympathy, listened to his wonderful, gigantic creations with the most absorbed attention and broke out in jubilant applause, often during sections, and repeatedly at the end of them.”
Can you imagine being in the theater and hearing this piece performed for the first time, not knowing what was to happen next, and being blindsided by the masterful 4th movement? And there, in front, the composer himself, not hearing the public’s jubilant reception of his final work, not knowing of it until one of the members of the orchestra stood up and turned him around to see the audience’s applause and cheering.