Dancing Joy © 2020

Words and Power

December 21, 2017

 

So, as an experiment, I looked up the translations of the lyrics of the "Ode to Joy," the poem by Friedrich Schiller that Beethoven immortalized in the chorale of the Ninth Symphony.  Not only did I find translations into French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English...but I found another interesting story.  Evidently, in 1972, this song was chosen to be an "Anthem of Europe."  Ratified in 1985, it is considered the official anthem of the European Union.  

 

In 1989, when the Iron Curtain began crumbling all over Europe, this was the music that celebrated the end of separation, as musicians performed it as a proclamation of humanity's triumph.  

In Japan, thousands of singers perform this every year, inspired by the story of friendship that developed between 4,000 German prisoners of war and the Japanese captors, due to humane treatment and respect.  The performance of the symphony by the German soldiers as a gift of thanks has inspired the "Daiku" concerts (Big Ninth) in which thousands of singers and musicians join to perform the symphony, which has become a Japanese tradition.

 

Can music change history?  The playwright William Congreve described the power of music, saying "Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." (The Mourning Bride, 1697). 

 

If we consider the connection of this symphony with movements of peace, of freedom and of common cause, it isn't hard to imagine it coalescing a new consciousness in the world today.  Adding the power of dance--and the visual power of cinematography--would expand the impact significantly.  

 

I'd like to invite people of good will--people who want the best for our bruised and battered world--to join us in creating this film project.  Music and dance and art have a power that transcends old structures, and uplifts the human heart.  Let's make the next year one of powerful change for our world.

 

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