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Music: Under the Influence

It was used as an anthem by apartheid Rhodesia, the East-West German Olympic team, and currently, the European Union. It served the movements of Bolshevism, Nazism, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. And you can find its melody in a hymnal. This is Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, most famous for its choral finale, the Ode to Joy.

Cultures create music, but then music has a formative influence on its culture. It can deepen religious faith, fortify protest movements, and knit together a community. In this talk, we examine music not just as an aesthetic experience; we look at its context -- the setting of production, performance, reception, legacy -- and its power to influence our lives and communities.

Recommended Reading

As a primer for our second talk, check out this page:

Beethoven's Ninth at the G20: Peace, Joy - and Provocation

On July 7, 2017, G20 leaders in Hamburg, Germany, were treated to a performance of Beethoven's famous Ninth Symphony. The choice of entertainment points to the enduring power and relevance of Beethoven's most famous work. 

The culminating chorale, the "Ode to Joy," has been interpreted, re-interpreted, and appropriated by an astonishing variety of movements. Socialists and Fascists, secular and religious have seen within it a moving vision that "all men shall become brothers." he Ninth Symphony presents us a way-in to discuss he unique power of music to shape and inspire us.