Philharmonic Orchestra

BYU Musicians Perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9

The musicians take their bows after the finale.

Widely regarded as the finest symphonic work of all time, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 has been performed over and over since its 1824 premiere. The work was nicknamed “the choral symphony” as it includes vocalists in the final movement. This creative choice broke the mold of the genre, which upset some purists. However, the symphony was greeted with overwhelming enthusiasm from the general public.

Conductor Kory Katseanes

By far the most loved movement of the symphony is the fourth, “Ode to Joy.” Beethoven experienced a slow decline of his hearing abilities as he aged, and was profoundly deaf by the time he wrote Symphony No 9. This tragedy only makes the lyrics of “Ode to Joy” more poignant. Adapted from a poem written by Friedrich Schiller, the song is an anthem of courage, peace, and unity in the face of hopelessness. “[Symphony No. 9 is] dedicated to all Mankind. Embracing all phases of human emotion, monumental in scope and outline, colossal in its intellectual grasp and emotional eloquence, the Ninth stands today as the greatest of all symphonies,” orchestra director Frederick Stock once said.

Bass soloist Shea Owens

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven

On October 7th, the BYU Philharmonic and BYU Combined Choirs released a video of their performance of the symphony, recorded at the historic Salt Lake Tabernacle. The project was a massive undertaking, requiring the cooperation of many artists, directors, and tech experts. The final result is a resonant tribute to the human spirit that is just as inspiring as it was nearly two centuries ago. Experience “Symphony No. 9” here.

Poet Friedrich Schiller