The 200th anniversary of the premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will be celebrated on 7 May with concerts around the world.

Composed between 1822 and 1824, it is best known for its fourth movement, which includes the famous hymn ‘Ode to Joy’, written by the poet Friedrich Schiller.

In addition to its musical significance, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is a symbol of universality and human brotherhood. The lyrics of the “Ode to Joy” express the idea of brotherhood among all human beings, regardless of their origin, culture, or beliefs, making this symphony a hymn of peace and unity.

The premiere of the work, the manuscript of which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001, took place in the now-defunct Vienna Court Theatre at the Kärntnertor in front of an audience of around 2,000.

In one of the central celebrations of the bicentenary, the Vienna Academy Orchestra, conducted by Martin Haselböck, will recreate this majestic concert on original instruments. Both Beethoven’s Ninth and the Missa Solemni, also performed at the premiere, appeal to the idea of peace, an urgent message for these times.

“Joy, beautiful divine spark, daughter of Elysium, we enter your heavenly sanctuary drunk with fire; your magic reunites what the severity of custom has separated! All men become brothers where your gentle wing rests,” reads the first stanza of Schiller’s poem.

As we listen to a fragment of the immortal sounds of the Ninth, we hope that the divine spark of joy will inspire and reunite people in one song and one purpose: The Universal Human Nation.