Completed in 1824, after six years of work, the Ninth is the most awesome
and inspiring of Beethoven's symphonies, employing a large orchestra, four
vocal soloists and chorus. The final movement is considered by many to be
the composer's crowning glory. It had been Beethoven's lifelong dream to
set Schiller's "Ode to Joy" to music, for the poem put into words
Beethoven's most impassioned desire: peace and brotherhood in the world.
The Ninth is an affirmation of optimism and beauty, written when Beethoven
was almost completely deaf. This work is part of Leonard Bernstein's
complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies recorded with the Vienna
Philharmonic Orchestra live in Vienna. The series won the Ace Award, the
National (U.S.) Cable TV Association's top award for outstanding quality
and entertainment value. Bernstein's impassioned renderings of Beethoven -
so transparent and contemporary in their message - move audiences in a
unique way. "Beethoven has always meant universality to me, ever since my
early adolescence, when I first heard that unforgettable cry of 'Brüder!'.
From that moment on, every... symphony came to mean heart-to-heart
communication, travelling satellite-fashion via the cosmos itself. I offer
[this cycle] to all music-loving ears as a testament of faith and of my
most profound reactions to this greatest of all composers."
(Leonard Bernstein, 1980)