Humor, Life
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Ludwig’s No. 9 on a Spring Evening

We dug deeply into the closet for The Suit and a Dress. The WideEyedSpouse installed cufflinks. I glued a dangling sequin back onto my dress and pulled out the outrageous silk and roses wrap I made last fall, just as my world turned dark and winter.

It is Springtime now. And, of course, Ludwig deserves the best and brightest. So last night we sparkled and gleamed the Mini over to Kleinhans Music Hall, leaving glitter and joy in our wake instead of carbon-rich exhaust. It was that kind of feeling.

Have you spent much time with Beethoven’s Symphony Number 9? It overwhelms. It fills a person with complexities of sound and silence. There are whispered conversations between flutes and violins, there are arguments between basses and tympani drums, French Horns have opinions all over the place and eventually more than one hundred voices join the instruments, yelling in German about Joy.  More or less. The lyrics don’t actually make a lot of sense – I don’t know if it’s the translation from German or changing social contexts –  “Millions, be you embraced! For the universe, this kiss!”


But I don’t have to get it. I can feel it. From across two centuries of unfathomable change, I can feel despair, contemplation, redemption, and Joy. I think about the millions of us who have listened to the Ninth and how we are all connected through the biological construct that was Beethoven’s brain. I think about cultural change and how long will our ability to hear Joy in the Ninth last?  – When will we be so different that we hear only cacophony?

Set aside an hour or so of your life. Play the Ninth. Let yourself be. You’ll get a little bored here and there – that’s because you are overstimulated by the music. Then you’ll be sucked back in and you’ll realize your skin is prickling. You’ll think unexpected thoughts. Last evening I spent a little time realizing that if the zombie apocalypse came during the concert, I’d be ok with this being the last thing I experienced. Then I thought about how to defend the balcony from zombies and considered which of my seat-neighbors would be a liability in the fight. Then the music changed and my brain moved on.

If you are like me, you’ll sometimes be so full of the music that you can’t breathe. You’ll realize that you are inside of it or it is inside of you – and you should marvel that Beethoven, who doesn’t know you, can’t know you, understood so perfectly how to craft sounds that reach you across time and space.

Celebrate Spring. Clear winter’s mush from your brain. Play the Ninth and play it loud. Joy.


  1. Thanks to your Christmas gift of a Bach concert at UVA, we’re going to do it again… this time the 9th Symphony on April 18. With a 200 person chorus for the Ode to Joy. It will be overwhelming to see it in person. You forced us to come out of the woods, kicking and screaming
    Can’t wait.

  2. WideEyedSpouse who is just utterly and completely in love with the WideEyedFunk says

    The feelings, imagery, and moods you are able to evoke in so few words impresses me every time I read what you have to say in these blogs. This is another example of that. That concert was awesome and it was powerful. My skin was prickly, I felt it for sure. I did not have a zombie apocalypse thought as you did, but I did find myself appreciating the brilliance of Beethoven and his ability to create something that is all at once so beautiful, raucous, and gentle. And to have done it at a time when he had all but lost his hearing.
    The best part though…you, the dress, and the silk and roses wrap. You looked stunningly beautiful and elegant. What did the one woman say? “That dress is exquisite and you look exquisite in it”…I completely agree.

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