Werden Menschen Brüder? Alle?
Commissioned by Susanne Kessel as part of the 250 Pieces for Beethoven project
Première on May 2nd, Leoninum Bonn by Susanne Kessel
Looking at the state of Europe, at the very start of 2019, one wonders what is left of the ideas of the Enlightment that shaped it. A few decades it almost seemed as if it finally reached an almost triumphant finale: from the breakdown of the Berlin Wall now almost 30 years ago, resulting in the reunion of the two Germany's, to the monetary union founded in Maastricht in 1992 (where I happened to study at the conservatory at the time) resulting in the introduction of the Euro, now 20 years ago. More and more countries became members of the EU, and everything seemed to be fine until somewhere in the first decade of the Millennium the tide slowly altered. And now, on this second day of the new year, we're at the brink of Brexit, the birthplace of European culture Greece still in a precarious economic state, politicians calling for new walls around the Mediterranean borders, countries refusing to allow refugees, other countries complaining too much of their wealth being drained to other countries. What would Ludwig think of all this, his Ode to joy theme being the official anthem of the European Union?
According to Slavoj Zizek Beethoven already questioned the idea of universal brotherhood in his 9th Symphony, his revolutionary idealism being shattered before by Napoleon's narcissism. The question when it comes to the ideology of universal brotherhood is: Werden Menschen Brüder? Alle? Or is there someone excluded? The second part of Ode to joy is stands in sharp contrast to the first, being more vulgar and ultimately outrageous. It expresses a joy that's over the top. According to Zizek Beethoven here tells the true story of that which disturbs the ideology of brotherhood and the eventual failure to constrain or to tame it.