Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 as a fulcrum

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 as a fulcrum

In its time many saw it as the final proof that Beethoven had lost his senses. A work that was practically impossible to perform, both on account of its extreme technical demands on the musicians, and its insane, megalomaniac dimensions.

Many found themselves provoked by the utopian, humanistic idealism of Friedrich Schiller’s text. Nevertheless, Beethoven’s ninth symphony is today considered to be the most central work in the history of Western music.

A ringing example of social change and political reform. Used and abused by the powers-that-be in countless contexts throughout history, depending on whether they found it desirable that all men should be brothers, or that all non-brothers should be exterminated.

The last movement, a contrapuntal ecstasy, is understood to represent Beethoven’s notion of the kind of world he wanted to live in. An image of humanity in which individuals are glued to each other, not to generals or religious leaders. An increasingly topical vision, and an important reason for why the Ultima Festival has chosen Beethoven's 9th Symphony as a fulcrum for its program in 2016. Beethoven's

Beethoven’s late pieces are seen by many as the starting point, the basis of modernism itself, in which the essential idea was that you have to change things in order to preserve them. Music can be seen as a continual dialogue between past, present and future, and Ultima is placed right at the centre of this debate.

Lars Petter Hagen
Director and artistic leader