When or wherever there is a Beethoven concert, there is bound to be a huge expectation of fine music and absolute vocal brilliance: a continuous reminder of one of the greatest musical gifts of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827). Set differently from a stage of everyday contemporary music concerts, it is usually a place, where the soul, body, and mind can drift into the bliss of momentary sensory pleasures. The melody ringing out from the synchronized abundance of musical instruments takes the minds of the audience deep into an abyss of musical fulfillment. It was a concert night of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in the Hollywood Bowl.
What first caught the eye of a keen observer, as the concert commenced, was the beautiful array of musical instruments and how the instrumentalists handled these instruments effortlessly with the end product being a sweet melody sailing the air and filling up every available space in the arena. Much more noticeable was the sequence at which all the musical notes seemed to follow without, as much as one note, being played off key. The expertise and proficiency, with which the conductor manipulated the drummers, violinists, and flutists, were all a site to behold. As the violinists struck the chords on their violins, and the sound of the drums bellowed out, the conductor made series of eccentric movements with his head weaving from side to side in gusto while his hands flailed and seemed to draw pictures in the air. It was undeniable that the conductor was a delight to watch, yet the attention was still focused on the melody of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
The faces of the audience registered satisfaction and awe as the chords struck and brought forth solemn music. While critics and fans alike may argue, that Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 probably holds the place of pride in the hearts of most music lovers, it takes a visit to a Symphony No.9 concert to put such arguments to rest. It was understandable from watching the concert, why Beethoven was eager to have the Symphony No.9 played at the conclusion, an act, which must have stemmed from moments of grandiose innovations and flashes of brilliance. The arena was filled with the messages of love, hope, and joy, which were the primary emotions – the effect of the music had on the audience. The larger than life image of the arguably greatest composer, who has ever lived, Beethoven, sauntered into the arena, and the whispers of his words: “Oh God, look out into the beauties of nature and comfort your heart with that which must be – Love demands everything and that very justly – thus it is to me with you, and you with me” almost filled the hall.
At a time, it seemed like the orchestra had performed the best of the composition, the second movement came: calm, tranquil and confident, while the theme continued onward in the various voices of the orchestra, broad, and flowing. The flow of the music abruptly stopped at times, and there were rapid shifts and great agitations until the orchestra introduced fast pace of the movement with the direction rhythm of three bars and one beat every four bars with the direction rhythm of four bars. It was definitely good music. The third movement, which was lyrically slow, was played for sixteen minutes in B flat major in a loose variation form. The message of the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven could not have been lost on the audience. The chords and melody of the musical instruments generated a revolutionary apology for liberty. Adjudged as one of the best known works of Western classical repertoire, the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven constructed after “an impeccable sonata plan…an impression of agitation, of breathless pursuit, almost bordering on despair”.
At its peak, the orchestra and chorus re-entered at a rapid tempo to bring the fourth movement of the symphony to a glorious end. The night had been fulfilling. The brilliance of the greatest composer of all times had once again been showcased by a master orchestra.