Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 was his final complete symphony, and arguably the greatest piece of music ever written. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra presents this epic piece along with Beethoven’s Ah, Perfido! and Fidelio: Overture on January 2nd and 4th at 8pm at the Orpheum Theatre. Maestro Bramwell Tovey conducts a concert that features soprano Joni Henson, mezzo-soprano Norine Burgess, tenor Michael Colvin, baritone Greg Dahl and the Vancouver Bach Choir.
Truly one of the most profound creations of the human mind, Beethoven’s Ninth is always fresh and current, and makes a particularly significant prelude to Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympic Games with a message of hope, joy and brotherhood.
Composed over a ten-month period in 1823/1824, the Ninth was Beethoven’s last symphony, a genre he had not written in for ten years. And as much as the Ninth is seen as being revolutionary, and in many ways it is, much of the work harks back to styles and influences of Beethoven’s past.
Even the famous final melody was an earlier creation, dating to 1794 in the guise of a song called ‘Gegenliebe’ (Mutual Love), then used again by Beethoven as the principal theme of the 1808 ‘Choral Fantasia’ before finding its apotheosis as the choral finale of the Ninth.
The truly revolutionary aspect of the Ninth was the addition of solo vocalists and a choir to the final movement. This had not been done before to any effect, and changed music forever. The choral finale of the Ninth is also no mere added bauble – it brings the work together with Beethoven’s musical setting of Frederick Schiller’s ode, ‘To Joy’, a poem Beethoven had long desired to set to music. The aggressive, operatic choral writing adds weight and brilliance to the conclusion, giving the words a profound credibility.
Beethoven’s Ode to Joy
Saturday and Monday, January 2 & 4, 8pm, Orpheum Theatre
Bramwell Tovey, conductor
Joni Henson, soprano (pictured)
Norine Burgess, mezzo-soprano
Michael Colvin, tenor
Greg Dahl, baritone
Vancouver Bach Choir
Tickets: $25 – $78.50 (senior, student and subscriber discounts available). Tickets available online at www.vancouversymphony.ca or by calling VSO customer service at 604.876.3434.