Ode To Joy: "An Die Freude"

Each year in Japan, during the month of December, there are more performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony than in the rest of the world, combined, for the entire year. The Japanese find the rich, changing emotion of the symphony to be a fitting symbol of life: a turbulent struggle ending in joy. Since the Japanese (and much of Asia) celebrate New Year's Day as a major holiday, and are quite serious about the day marking the end of the old and the beginning of a new start, this is highly appropriate, and very Japanese, even if it was originally very German.

One of the major thrills of the season is to see the annual NHK Symphony performance of "The Ninth." The NHK Symphony is definitely world-class, so their superb work is no surprise. But when a diminutive, obviously Jpaanese baritone walks out, and delivers the Ode To Joy in a magnificent, rich baritone -- in German -- it is indeed a joy.

Friedrich Von Schiller, Ode: An Die Freude

From Ludwig Van Beethoven's 9th Symphony in D-Minor

O freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere anstimmen
Und freudenvollere!

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.

Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein,
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund.

Freude trinken alle wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bösen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur,
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
Und der Cherub steht vor Gott!

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels Prächt'gen Plan,
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen,
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder! über'm Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen,
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such' ihn über'm Sternenzelt!
über Sternen muß er wohnen.

O friends, no more these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
More full of joy!

Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-Inspired we tread
Thy sanctuary
Thy magic power re-united
All that custom has divided
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.

Whoever has created
An abiding friendship,
Or has won
A true and loving wife,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join in our song of praise;
But any who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.

All creatures drink of joy
At nature's breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.
Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!

Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He set on their courses
Through the splendour of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero going to conquest.

You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your Creator?
Seek Him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell

Washington Apple Pi IFAQ
lic Sunday, January 11, 1998