Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is my favorite. I’ve loved it since I was a child – pieces of the fourth movement were printed in our church hymnal under the title “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.” I have loved it on telecasts for the Olympics over the years, where it now helps Visa pay the bills. I have loved seeing it performed in two separate concert halls; a recording of it with the Vienna Philharmonic was one of the first CDs I ever purchased.
In early high school I realized the symphony itself was written with a chorale component. I learned that Beethoven had used a popular German poem, Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” for the lyrics. Like most classical music, at least some of the inspiration behind Beethoven’s masterpiece was the greatness of the deity.
Growing up in church, the greatness of the deity and the community of believers gathered around it served as my own musical inspiration too. Perhaps it’s unsurprising, then, that when I left the church I left my musical passion behind.
Yesterday, after I pulled out a violin for the first time in 25 years and produced some basic scales, I realized I could hear the ubiquitous melody line from the fourth movement beginning to emerge in my head, out of the blue. Slowly, I found my way through my old favorite, playing by ear.
I don’t think getting my musical passion back is just some crazy dream. But even if it is, that’s what some people thought about Beethoven’s 9th before it debuted.
Thanks for reading.