Trial, Triumph, and the Art of the Possible: The Remarkable Story Behind Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”

(via The Marginalian) by Maria Popova

“Day by day I am approaching the goal which I apprehend but cannot describe,” Ludwig van Beethoven (December 16, 1770–March 26, 1827) wrote to his boyhood friend, rallying his own resilience as he began losing his hearing. A year later, shortly after completing his Second Symphony, he sent his brothers a stunning letter about the joy of suffering overcome, in which he resolved:

Ah! how could I possibly quit the world before bringing forth all that I felt it was my vocation to produce?

That year, he began — though he did not yet know it, as we never do — the long gestation of what would become not only his greatest creative and spiritual triumph, not only a turning point in the history of music that revolutionized the symphony and planted the seed of the pop song, but an eternal masterwork of the supreme human art: making meaning out of chaos, beauty out of sorrow.

Across the epochs, “Ode to Joy” rises vast and eternal, transcending all of spacetime and at the same time compacting it into something so intimate, so immediate, that nothing seems to exist outside this singularity of all-pervading possibility. Inside its total drama, a total tranquility; inside its revolt, an oasis of refuge. The story of its making is as vitalizing as the masterpiece itself — or, rather, its story is the very reason for its vitality…

Read more: https://www.themarginalian.org/2022/05/17/beethoven-ode-to-joy/?mc_cid=1447853901&mc_eid=3d582d0f9a

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