October 3, 2020

Freedom

Today is the German national holiday, the Day of German Unity (der Tag der Deutschen Einheit). When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and German unity was finally achieved, I had almost forgotten that this happened: On Christmas Day in Berlin, Leonard Bernstein conducted an east/west combined orchestra which performed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. When they sang the chorale (Schiller's Ode to Joy), they replaced the word Freude (joy) with Freiheit (freedom).

This was the last time Bernstein conducted this symphony; he died the following October.

In the following video of this event, the final theme begins at 1:01:47, and the choirs stand to sing at 1:05:58.

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