A personal appreciation of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
It has been called the greatest audio entity one could ever listen to; a song which can pierce the soul of even the most dedicated music-hater: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Not only has it been designated thus; also, as one of the few truly divinely inspired works, one which most men can only marvel at, as they wallow in their appropriate humility. These creations, however, are definitely not the only aspects of entities beyond the scopes of men; there are far more examples, which are seen every day, but often overlooked. I was walking outside, with this song echoing in the recesses of my mind, on a dismal, overcast day in the Autumnal quarter, a day when where the streets blended with the atmosphere, when one could hardly look up without feeling the singe of the wind against one’s face. To me, these days have always conjured up images of some distant, looming storm, some silent tempest which, if not otherwise distracted will soon wreak mayhem and disaster on my environs. This day had an intense air about it, as do others of its ilk. This is most likely the fault of the storm under which it is shadowed, as though it and its inhabitants are uneasy and harrowed about the imminent predator waiting overhead to pounce. As the sky overhead swam with deeper and deeper shades of gray and hopeless black, the song in my mind was reaching some vocal crescendo in the fourth movement, a better foreteller of the gale I could not imagine. While the winds bullied and tormented the defenseless neighborhood, I started for my house. Unexpectedly, as the crescendo was losing speed, a quiet, pacific violin entered the musical fray in my brain, and the entire mood of the symphony mellowed, the winds themselves pacified, seemingly under Ludwig’s fickle dominion. Thinking the storm had passed, I continued blissfully onward to the meadows which were my destination. Again I was assaulted, this time by a different part of the symphony; not too long after the first chorale. This was the startling and almost fearful, but still uplifting, part in which the female and male vocals collided like two huge tidal waves with the power to splinter a fleet of ships with the German Alle Menschen repeated several times. Upon this onslaught of euphony, I turned from whatever I might have been thinking before, and looked at some violently twisting and rising leaves and other debris, and gazed at the playful heavens, again ominous. Annoyed with Beethoven and the cruel elements, I stood there, unmoving; indecisive, not knowing whether to turn around or pursue my present course, I felt the excited chorale still striking some unknown and inexplicable fear within me, as though some divine creature were about to strike me down in some vehemence which lies well beyond the realms of verbal description. So, as the chorus continued repeating its faithful mantra, the winds again rose up stronger than before, as twigs began to snap and fall about me; I was still, yet deeply moved. Perplexed at the whimsy antics of nature, I was about to retreat to my home, when, in the remarkable symphony, a single male vocal broke through the complicated entanglement of godly voices, and I, despite the protests of my superego, decided to continue on with some alien, renewed vigor against the gusty weather, as though I were the bearer of news about the winner of a war or some other momentous aftermath. At this, as though impressed with my display of singular determination, the wind made itself placid, laying down before me. Violins were heard, along with the driving, male voice. Suddenly, completely without warning and all at once, what seemed like throngs of angelic, female voices sang as though sent on an appeal to God on the eve of apocalypse. They continued, soon joined by male voices, and other instruments, in the most spiritual and epiphytic reverberation I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing, and, seemingly, all in my favor, against cruel and remorseless nature, pleading to let me pass. I, however, felt like only a petty bystander in this competition between the symphony and the elements, completely unable to comprehend, let alone justify either side’s wish, only able to observe the outcome and obey it as the gospel that I knew it was. Thus, whether or not I ever achieved my destination is beside the point. My sojourn in that small neighborhood taught me perhaps what is life’s most important lesson. This lesson is clear: there are many things in this world completely beyond most men’s small intellects. They may manifest themselves in certain artworks, novels, or musical masterworks; however, these manifestations only serve as reminders to arrogant man. While it is true that these manifestations are created by singular members of the selfsame race, these members serve only as conduits of a greater, nearly incomprehensible power; something which they, themselves, may often forget.