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Why the World Loves Beethoven's Ninth

April 26, 2024

From Kyiv to Kinshasa: Why do we still find Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 so moving?

Ludwig van Beethoven
Image: Heinz-Dieter Falkenstein/Zoonar/picture alliance

Star conductor Oksana Lyniv and Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun explain why "The Ninth Symphony" represents a longing for peace and freedom around the world.

"All men become brothers." Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 expresses a longing for peace and freedom for many people around the world. Why does the Ninth Symphony move people so much – from Tokyo, to Kinshasa, to Kyiv? We put this question to Ukrainian star conductor Oksana Lyniv and Chinese-American composer and conductor Tan Dun. Both describe their passion for the Ninth and reflect on why people all around the world – regardless of cultural background – feel that this symphony has irrepressible appeal.

Bologna Dirigentin Oksana Lyniv
Oksana Lyniv

Oksana Lyniv has conducted Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 many times – the first time was with the Ukrainian Youth Symphony Orchestra, which she founded. What we would really like to find out, is: What does Beethoven's Ninth mean to a country at war? In Kyiv, we meet up with two musicians from the Youth Orchestra for whom Beethoven's music is offering support and comfort in the midst of the chaos of war.

And Tan Dun has approached Beethoven's masterpiece in his own unique way in his composition "Nine. Ode to Compassion". How does the Chinese-American composer view Beethoven's Ninth?


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