In the Footsteps of Beethoven’s Final Symphony
Written and directed by Kerry Candaele
Following the Ninth is a history-packed paean to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor. In this dramatic composition, passion and violence resolve in the final movement—the section commonly referred to as “Ode to Joy”—with a chorus singing words adapted from an 18th-century poem of the same name.
A brilliant musical masterpiece created by a nearly deaf composer in the 19th century, the Ninth became a kind of anthem to the human spirit.
This documentary skillfully interweaves historical footage with expert commentary in the present, detailing pivotal moments of human struggle that have adopted the powerful composition: for example, the Tiananmen Square demonstration and massacre; at the Brandenburg Gate when the Berlin Wall came down; in Chile during the U.S.-backed overthrow of Salvador Allende. The film connects the dots among human events of revolution and transformation, all of which have embraced this music as their battle cry. As one conductor noted, it’s really an ode to freedom.
So popular is it in Japan that at the holidays there may be 100 different choral groups performing it, in some cases with a 5,000-voice chorus.
The Ninth Symphony is beautiful and stirring, but it’s also violent, making it an almost perfect reflection of human struggle and hope. Although the composer was totally deaf by the time the symphony was first performed, the rest of the world has continued to listen to, and be inspired by it. This illuminating documentary will enable you to appreciate it from not just a musical, but also historical perspective. You’ll never hear it the same way again.
This film will be featured at the Awakened World Film Festival, Oct. 27-30, Santa Barbara, Calif.
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