Urtext edited by Peter Hauschild [solos,mix ch,orch] Duration: 65'
56 pages | 19 x 27 cm | 169 g | ISMN: 979-0-004-18228-4 | Saddle Stitch
With the incorporation of choral and solo voices in the finale of his Ninth Symphony, written between fall 1822 and ca. February 1824, Beethoven shattered the formal world of the classical symphony, which had hitherto been purely instrumental. We know that Beethoven had often considered setting Schiller’s Ode to Joy [An die Freude] ever since he was a young man in Bonn. Less well-known is the historical background: Schiller’s poem enjoyed a wide circulation in the humanistically oriented Masonic lodges of the time, where membership was thriving in the wake of the Enlightenment. Beethoven’s teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe was a “protagonist of Masonry and Princeps of the Bonn Illuminati.” The composer himself continued to maintain contacts with Freemasons in his later years, including relations to the London Philharmonic Society, constituted in 1823, which was not only an artistic institution, but also “a headquarters of British Freemasonry.” The Ninth, which Beethoven originally conceived for this society, culminates with the Ode to Joy as an “emblem of Masonic ideals.”1
Beethoven most likely drew his inspiration for the joy melody and its later polyphonic treatment from a sacred work by Mozart, the Offertory Misericordias Domini K. 222.2 There we find the same sequenced motif beginning on the third and followed by rising and falling seconds as an instrumental counterpoint to the vocal parts. Beethoven threw a bridge from the genre-typical instrumental work to the vocal-symphonic finale by fashioning a purely instrumental introduction to the first part, which picks up various thematic fragments from the first three movements, before adding the vocal parts to what one could call the recapitulation of the exposition. The finale opens with the “horror fanfare”3 derived from the principal theme of the first movement. The initially wordless recitative is followed by a short recapitulation of the main themes of the previous movements. Paving the way to its goal – the Ode to Joy – are motivic details drawn from the secondary themes of the preceding movements. The goal is ultimately reached, yet a certain conflict emerges in this process as it unfolds and is subjected to a sweeping, statically and architectonically conditioned reprise: the joy melody, which the tutti has just intoned and ecstatically elaborated, unforeseeably falls back into the dissonant horror fanfare. The baritone’s words “O Freunde, nicht diese Töne” [O friends, not these sounds] most certainly refer to the latter; yet they can also be understood as a questioning of the state of exaltation, which leads to catastrophe. One has the impression that Beethoven – who “always had the whole in [his] mind”4 – had to resort to his own, banishing words “O Freunde, nicht diese Töne” in order to warn the world about the dangers of mass rapture, which history has repeatedly confirmed since the French Revolution.5
Beethoven made considerable cuts in Schiller’s lengthy poem, taking only the strophes that he felt were directly suited to the musical context of the symphony. The beginning of the tutti at m. 237 introduces a series of structural units, each of which modulates to the key of the next one, so that the tonic key of D major is not conclusively and fully cadenced until the close of the work, after the broad arc of tension has reached its term. At m. 330, the first sectional conclusion, there is a peculiarity in the dynamics unattended by previous editors: here, where the music modulates to F major, only the chorus remains in ff, thus powerfully underscoring the words “vor Gott,” while the instrumental tutti is given a diminuendo as it prepares the next section in B flat major, the Alla marcia, which begins pp. This piece, with its characteristic “Turkish music,” features a variation of the joy melody in the winds. The tenor solo confirms the section’s thoroughly “military” intent with the words “freudig wie ein Held zum Siegen” [Heroes, happy and victorious]. What follows at m. 431 in the orchestra can hardly be seen as anything but a musical depiction of a battle from which the joy melody emerges triumphantly as a victory hymn, and is heard in its entirety for the last time. In the next section, Andante maestoso “Seid umschlungen Millionen” [Be embraced, all you Millions], a second theme in G major is exposed which, along with the Adagio ma non troppo, ma divoto, “Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen” [Do you kneel before him, O Millions?], introduces a vividly illustrative episode that culminates with the shimmering pp play of woodwinds opposite the upper ranges of the vocal parts. In the polyphonic Allegro energico starting at m. 655, the second theme reveals itself to be a counterpoint to the first four measures of the joy theme, which is joined by a further counterpoint of alternating instruments in a consecutive eighth-note motion. This concludes with a simplified reprise of the episode “Ihr stürzt nieder ...” beginning at m. 730. In the following Allegro ma non tanto, which begins in m. 763, as well as in the broadly designed Prestissimo stretto starting in m. 851, the joy theme – now condensed to its opening measures through reduction into eighth notes – recurs only in the accompanying figure work of the orchestra, while the vocal parts, which carry the text, seem to be emancipating themselves from it at the same time. Whereas only the baritone and tenor soloists had been called upon until now, in the Allegro ma non tanto all four soloists are entrusted with an opulent polyphony that is the quintessence of the hymn “Alle Menschen werden Brüder, wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt” [All men will become brothers under your protective wing], in what might be termed an individual statement contrasting with the chorus’s collective one. With her modulation to the high, distant keys of E major and B major, the solo soprano soars to the absolute lyrical climax of the movement, if not of the entire symphony: the turn to b2– f sharp2 becomes a transfiguration of the falling fourth that underlies the main themes of the first and third movements.
This piano reduction is based on the source-critical, practiceoriented new edition of the score (PB 5239). The historical background, as well as the highly complex source-critical aspects and details of the entire work are elucidated at length in the Preface and comprehensive “Kritischer Bericht” there. Although we have essentially borrowed Carl Reinecke’s reliable, time-tested piano arrangement, we have adapted a number of specific passages to the revised score.
Leipzig, Fall 2005
1) Quotes from Hans-Werner Küthen, Mozart-Schiller-Beethoven. Mozarts Modell für die Freudenhymne und die Fusion der Embleme im Finale der Neunten Symphonie, in: Hudební vèda. Musicology 2/93, Prague, 1993, pp. 105–128.
2) Hans-Werner Küthen, Schöpferische Rezeption im Finale der 9. Symphonie von Beethoven, in: Probleme der symphonischen Tradition im 19. Jahrhundert, Internationales Musikwissenschaftliches Colloquium Bonn 1989, Kongressbericht, Tutzing, 1990.
3) The designation stems from Richard Wagner; see his Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen, Leipzig: E. W. Fritsch 21888, Bd. 9, S. 241.
4) Beethoven’s words in a letter of early March 1814 to Georg Friedrich Treitschke, Ludwig van Beethoven, Briefwechsel. Gesamtausgabe, ed. by Sieghard Brandenburg, Munich 1996, Vol. 3, No. 707, p. 20.
5) We can see to what extent Beethoven struggled inwardly with such basic conceptional questions in the fact that he temporarily considered – both in his sketches and even after the first performance – giving the symphony a different, purely instrumental finale. See Gustav Nottebohm, Skizzen zur neunten Symphonie, in: Zweite Beethoveniana, Leipzig, 1880, pp. 180–183.