How Beethoven’s ‘mistake’ became one of our most famous tunes


Without question, the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony contains one of the most famous tunes ever written.

  • Scott Davie
  • The Conversation

Since its first performance in 1824, the “Ode to Joy” has been repurposed in endless ways, both reverential and exploitative, from performances at the Berlin Wall to its use in tawdry advertising.

Beto 1aThis final movement, which combines voices and orchestra, is based on Friedrich Schiller’s 1786 poem extolling a humanist theme of universal joy.

Beethoven started sketching ideas for a musical setting of the text in his late 20s, and, given an initial admiration for Napoleon, he was likely attracted to the poem’s revolutionary undertones…

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