Beethoven’s astonishing Ninth Symphony had its premiere on this date, May 7, in 1824, in Vienna. Much has been written about that memorable night, and it’s easy to find accounts in many sources, online and off.
I’ve had the pleasure of performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony several times, a luxury that I treasure in memory. To sing this music is an intense physical and psychological experience, as I’ve written about often.
Perhaps the most moving account I have ever read about a person’s experience with the Ninth is a letter from Helen Keller – yes, Helen Keller – to the New York Symphony Orchestra after having “heard” that ensemble’s broadcast of the Ninth over the radio on February 1, 1924. Here it is in its entirety –