“Ode an die Freude”

That’s the anthem of the European Union, as I just learned today. It’s just the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The lyrics–a celebration of universal brotherhood–would make it an appropriate choice, but the selection disheartens me for two reasons.

i.) Classical music must be in deeper decline than I imagined. Europeans, on the whole, take their orchestras much more seriously than Americans; yet even Continentals couldn’t muster the will to commission a new production to serve as their anthem. They fell back on a piece that was, at the time of its adoption, 148 years old, and one of the most recognizable pieces of music ever.

ii.) I don’t like the idea of one of the crowning achievements of humanity being co-opted by a political body.


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