My Ode to Joy

‘Ode to Joy’ is from the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. I am not in particular a classical music fan, but a friend long ago sat me down and made me listen to this symphony carefully, and I am glad he did.

‘Ode to Joy’ starts out low and uncertain, almost fearful, but then resolves into something lighter, gentler, beautiful, something you want more of, something you don’t ever want to let go. But as the music continues, this theme that started the piece disappears, as other themes arise and replace the original theme. The themes that replace are in turn soft and harsh, light and heavy. They span a spectrum of moods and are beautiful in their variety, but regardless, they are different. They have arisen from the first theme, but aren’t part of it.

After a while you wonder if the theme is gone forever, that faint thread that arose at the beginning but was never fully expressed. Would the other themes that arose bury it forever?

But in the end, Beethoven’s 9th symphony returns, in full resplendent force, to ‘Ode to Joy’, perhaps the single most beautiful piece of music ever written. Ascendant and powerful, it is from where all the other previous themes sprang from. It was the beginning and the end, and there it was all the time in between, even when the other themes wove in and out, and performed the illusion of making it disappear, when in fact it was before us all the time, quiet and ever-present throughout.

On our Anniversary, my Love, my Wife of 16 years, you are my ‘Ode to Joy’.