Brotherhood: Beethoven’s Ultimate Statement of Joy

Mountain Laurel“Yet how incongruous: Beethoven, in his deafness and isolation, was separated from his brothers by a gulf of intellect, phenomenal egotism, and—finally—silence. He came to personify the triumph of individuality, not brotherhood. ” — program notes on Beethoven Symphony No. 9.

I wonder, these words to me also seem philosophically incongruous. I’ve often delved into the rational investigation of the truths and principles of knowledge, and I continue to return to the thought that it is the individual striving to be better and to discern the ultimate truth – and to communicate the beauty and grace of this knowledge that brings a more lasting ‘brotherhood’ than any artificially concocted artifact of brotherhood thrust upon the collective in ways they many may lament or mistrust.

Only individuals, upon their own impetus, can come together in brotherhood when the understanding through succinct interchange of ideas is ideally struck. What better elucidation of the harmonious ideas that Beethoven was trying to achieve than his Symphony number 9: The ‘Ode to Joy’..? How many have heard this masterpiece and felt the ultimate joy he was trying to express?

I feel ultimately connected to Ludwig van Beethoven through his music, more so than 10,000 million words could express. I feel the message and I propose that many if not most other ‘individuals’ do so as well.

Was he isolated in his deafness: perhaps to those immediately around him. But who better in this world have expressed such wonderment as Beethoven?

Separated from his brothers by a gulf? Perhaps not so much in reality when one considers his gift to humanity, which he shared so generously. His triumph was not so much individuality for the sake of it, but it was his use of his own individuality which brought this gift of brotherhood to us all.

Who can walk away from this symphony with any other feeling? No longer incongruous are these thoughts I forswear; rather: harmoniously matched and suitable is his brotherhood of all mankind in his ultimate statement of joy.

“(at the end of the first performance) with the audience applauding madly and waving handkerchiefs, the alto soloist went to him and turned him around. Then he was able to see the enthusiastic response he could not hear. Perhaps it was, at last, a rare moment of joy for Beethoven.”


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