Beethoven 9th Symphony

December 12, 2008

This is the piece of music which many people argue is the greatest of all music. It is the 9th Symphony of Beethoven. It certainly has a valid claim for consideration as the greatest. This version of it, by the conductor Herbert von Karajan, is one of the most majestic interpretations.

Bethoven himself was a great European, who, I feel sure, would have welcomed the events of the present day, regarding the unification of Europe. He was one of those who supported the ideals of the French Revolution, and when Napoleon rose to power, Beethoven believed the new leader would bring the ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity to the whole continent, ushering in a new golden age of enlightenment and peace. He even dedicated his 3rd Symphony, called the Eroica (Heroic) to Napoleon. When Napoleon had himself proclaimed Emperor, Beethoven’s hopes were dashed, and he angrily scratched out the dedication. He realised that all Napoleon wanted was power, and not the welfare of the European people.

The final movement of the 9th contains the famous tune which has been adopted as the anthem of the European Union. You can hear it in the second video of Karajan’s performance, which appears below this.

Happy listening!

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The Cultures of Germany, Italy, and France

December 11, 2008

I did a post a couple of days ago that was prompted by a question someone had asked on BlogCatalog and which I just randomly happened to see on there. The question was “What comes to mind when you think of Sweden?”

Well, I was thinking a bit more about this, and I decided to do a similar thing for all the other countries of the European Union, and in that way, I can compile my own personal view of the EU. To keep this a bit manageable, I will start with just a few of the 27 countries. I’ll start by looking at the bigger countries, and the ones I know most about, the larger countries of Western Europe. These are Germany, Italy and France.

When I think of Germany, it is music that comes to mind. Among my favourite classical composers are Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler. This is cheating slightly because two of these were from Austria, and another spent most of his life in Austria, but as Germany and Austria are both in the EU it doesn’t matter, because in a sense, they are now both part of the same country.

When I think of Italy, it is food and painting that comes to mind. I love Leonardo and Michelangelo, and also Botticelli and Masaccio and Caravaggio and Tintoretto and many others. I also like pizza and pasta and ice cream.

When I think of France, it is science and mathematics that comes to mind. The list of French scientists is much too long to be contained in one blog post. I also think of Paris, which is the greatest city on earth.

My aim is to post in detail on all of the above topics in the coming weeks. Also, I intend to look at all the other countries of the European Union in the same kind of way.

So I suggest that you bookmark or favourite or follow or subscribe to this blog, to partake of the delights that are to come! And I will welcome any comments (nice polite ones please) with any thoughts you may have about the EU and its amazing culture, or about any of the individual countries.