As well defined by the School of Culture of Peace in Barcelona, in classical music there are numerous examples, from the Renaissance to the present day, of composers who decided to respond musically to the conflicts that have occurred in the world, or in their own countries, using music as a voice for peace.
Among these fine works of art, the Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Opus 125, also known as “Choral”;, written by the German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, should be recalled. This is one of the most transcendental, important and popular works of music and art. Its latest part of the symphony is a surprising choral finale, which has become a symbol of freedom and peace.
The work marked an important development in 19th century music. Beethoven set to music the German poet Friedrich von Schiller’s An die Freude (Ode to joy). It was the first time that the human voice was included in a symphonic work.
The symphony was first performed in Vienna on May 7, 1824. Its influence ever since has extended far beyond the field of music. The work has inspired poets, writers, and visual artists, and it has provoked aesthetic and philosophical argument and discussion. Above all, the symphony has at all times proclaimed to people of good will its message of joy and the global brotherhood of humanity. Composers influenced by the work have included Schubert, Berlioz, Brahms, Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler, and many others.
The original score of the symphony was added to the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 2001, where it joins other outstanding monuments to the spiritual heritage of mankind.
In the current world whipped by conflicts and wars, both Beethoven and Schiller still represent the living and present testimony of the commitment of human beings to the supreme values of peace, dialogue and solidarity. As the Chorus solemnly expressed:
Joy, beautiful spark of divinity,
Daughter from Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly One, thy sanctuary!
Your magics join again
What custom strictly divided;
All people become brothers,
Where your gentle wing abides.