Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Blessings on Your New Year

Happy New Year to all my readers!

Thank you for reading, linking, and referring to this blog over the years. We are now approaching close to 2 million page views, which is simply stunning. Thank you so much; you humble me.

As a New Year's gift back to you, I'd like to share some special music. I love music, especially classical music, and this is one of my favorites.

In Japan, there is a lovely New Year's tradition of participating in a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (the choral symphony with the famous "Ode to Joy" tune, which was adapted into the church hymn, "Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee"). Supposedly this tradition began back in World War I when German prisoners-of-war played it at a concert for people in Japan. Over time (for many reasons), it developed into an annual tradition there, played all throughout December and culminating in massive New Year's Eve performances.

But while huge concerts are inspiring and impressive, there is something to be said for a slightly more intimate version too. This is an utterly charming video of a flash mob of musicians in Spain performing the best and most familiar bits of the famous last movement of Beethoven's Ninth.

It's not the most polished performance, but who cares? That's not the point. It's all about the exuberance of the music, the pleasure of making communal music together, and the sheer joy of the children and others watching as they are moved by this wonderful piece of music written long ago by a man who couldn't even hear the music out loud anymore but who continued to write for the sake of the beauty he could still hear inside his head.

Enjoy the beautiful music, count your blessings and your joys, and have a wonderful year. Many blessings upon you and yours.

*Want more? If you've got the time, check out the justly-famous 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall Ode to Freedom concert of Beethoven's Ninth, conducted with transparent and overwhelming emotion by Leonard Bernstein. Part one of the 4th movement is here, and the second half of the movement is here. (If you don't have time for it all, my favorite part is the first four minutes or so of part one!)

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