Posts tagged ‘Ludwig van Beethoven’

April 15, 2011

Beethoven needs football

I picked up the book The Nine Symphonies of Beethoven by Antony Hopkins, but it is entirely too technical for me.
So I skimmed through it (just looking at the pictures, if you will). Towards the end, where he is discussing the last movement of the Ninth symphony, you know the one with the Ode to Joy and the chorus and all the voices, I ran across the following passage.

In due course the violins join in, taking the tune up a further octave while the supporting parts flow in ever more liberated counterpoint. On the fourth repetition of the tune the full orchestra (less trombones) proclaims it in triumph, forming a veritable procession which breaks up into a happy but confused throng after the end cadence. Second violins and violas provide the bustle of the excited crowd while the upper wind extend the melody with the sort of

| ♩.  ♪ ♩
la-la —  la-la

refrain that happy people might well sing spontaneously. (If the idea seems absurd, consider the uncanny way in which a crowd of thousands of football supporters will, without any apparent direction, go through a repertoire of songs such as ‘You’ll never walk alone’, ‘When the saints go marching in’, ‘Amazing Grace’ or ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’.)

That’s right: you need football to explain Beethoven.