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Music

Listen: Kurt Masur conducts Beethoven's Symphony No. 7

Exclusive concert recordings with the recently-deceased maestro and the Dresden Philharmonic, as download or on-demand audio stream.

Listen to audio 41:20

Masur conducts Beethoven's Symphony No. 7

Although the composer Richard Wagner described this symphony as "the apotheosis of the dance," various images come to mind when hearing the music. It's no coincidence that Wikipedia lists no fewer than 14 films that use music from Beethoven's Seventh.

Composed between 1809 and 1812, it premiered in Vienna in 1813 under the direction of Beethoven himself, who by that time was nearly completely deaf. That blow of fate is often brought into connection with his music, such as in the deeply sad sound of the second movement. The prevalent mood in this work, however, is joyous; the rhythms captivating.

The world premiere was only a month and a half after the greatest wartime catastrophe preceding World War I, the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig. The orchestra included a number of famous musicians, the concert was a success and the proceeds went to war veterans or their families.

Music picks up where words fail - such as after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when Kurt Masur led the New York Philharmonic in a performance of "A German Requiem" by Johannes Brahms.

13 years earlier, Masur's voice advocating nonviolence had been raised - and heard - in a delicate and confusing situation, the Monday demonstrations in Leipzig preceding the demise of the Communist state in Germany - a revolution that, in the end, was peaceful. In the decades before, Kurt Masur presided over the city's Gewandhaus Orchestra, his diplomatic skills enabling him to work effectively in a dictatorship and to demonstrate that musical activity can overcome political and social boundaries.

Masur in the Gewandhaus, Leipzig.

At the 1996 New Year's Eve concert at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Masur bade farewell to his musicians and the city

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