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About This Event
To celebrate the history-making fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Leonard Bernstein conducted concerts on each side of the city that had been divided for 28 years. It was fitting that East Germany’s newfound freedom was celebrated with a Christmas Day performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony—perhaps the world’s most famous symphony, inspired by Friedrich Schiller’s passionate paean to freedom, “Ode to Joy.” For the occasion, Bernstein substituted the word joy (“Freude”) with freedom (“Freiheit”). Adding to the symbolism, the orchestra and chorus members not only hailed from Germany, but also represented the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.
Image: Joseph Karl Stieler, portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven, 1820