JOY
HOW THE ODE TO IT WAS WRITTEN
An Overview by Ingrid Schwaegermann


 



(Theater am Kaerntnertor,
where the Ode to Joy premiered on May 7,1824)



Nagano, Japan, 1998, at the opening ceremony of the Winter Games of the 18th Olympiad--the airwaves were filled with voices singing these words:

 Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum.
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt.
Alle Menschen werden Brüder
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

 

They have been written in 1785 by Friedrich Schiller, with some revisions to them in 1803. Why are they and Beethoven's music to them still a symbol of peaceful unification for us? If we look at the suspense story of Schiller's becoming a heroic poet, we will begin to understand why. If we then also look at how the text of this Ode fascinated Beethoven for nearly thirty years until he finally wrote the choral ending to his Ninth Symphony, we will also begin to understand what motivated him. Beginning to understand the motivations of these artists may help us to retain the positive force that reigns in this work, for more than just one moment of peaceful unification...

...our first section of this exploration is awaiting you! It takes you through the years 1759 - 1785 in two 'layers': the first layer is a TIME TABLE that features brief data entries to relevant facts of Schiller's life to the left and likewise information on Beethoven to the right. At the end of each such entry, a link leads you to our BACKGROUND information section. This section contains detailed, vital information to help us understand what motivated the artists, illustrated with pictures. The last BACKGROUND entry of this section is, of course, the complete 1785 version of the Ode in German with a near-literal translation of it into English!

 

Happy Journey into the World of the

Ode to Joy!

TO OUR TIME TABLE