Jonathan Keates

The Redemption of Music

The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824

By

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Berlioz declared it ‘a starting point for the music of the present’, a riposte to the folly, baseness and cruelty of mankind. Schumann saw it as the image of one who ‘looks down with indescribable love upon life which gave him so little’, while Wagner viewed the whole achievement as ‘the redemption of music, out of its own element, as a universal art’. Verdi, on the other hand, condemned the bad writing for voices in the final movement, while for Spohr, among the most popular and successful of early nineteenth-century composers, this same section was simply ‘monstrous and tasteless’.

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