Our series on Beethoven's nine symphonies — each performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra — concludes with the Ninth Symphony. Because of its length, the performance has been spread out over the course of two days.
For his Ninth and final symphony, Beethoven wove the themes of the Enlightenment into his work. He finally saw a chance to use Friedrich Schiller's "Ode to Joy" -- Beethoven had long wanted to set the poem to music for its themes of freedom and brotherhood. The Ninth, dedicated to Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, influenced composers that followed, including Schubert, Brahms and Mahler. It not only affected them stylistically, but also left them to ponder whether to write more than nine symphonies. However, many critics rejected the work's encompassing message of unity, calling it "naïve." Nevertheless, the piece has been used on several occasions throughout history, and more recently at Olympic ceremonies, during the fall of the Berlin Wall, and as the anthem of the European Union. Because of the symphony's length, it has been split into two segments.
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