music appreciation

I love what I call  ‘meta’ moments.  Last Friday night was one.  The kids and I attended a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the thunderous Ode to Joy, an experience that was likewise so joyful it demanded to be recorded.  Here, then, is my ode to the Ode, in five movements.

I.  Allegro.  My four kids pile into the car with me, and we head to Orange Country’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts, where the Pacific Symphony and Chorale will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125.  Sorry, Justin Bieber:  hard to believe, I know, but my kids prefer the musical stylings of the dead guy. 

II.  Molto vivace.  My boys are sitting three rows up, right in the center.  I wonder how the younger one will fare.   

I keep staring over at the older one, who is rapt, as absorbed as anyone in the hall.  He has been salivating for weeks in anticipation of this. 

III.  Adagio molto e cantabile.  My younger son, nowhere to be seen, has no doubt fallen asleep in his brother’s lap.  No matter.  This movement works just as well in a dream.  My younger daughter, in a musically induced trance, stares straight ahead.  For the last forty-five minutes, she has scarcely moved.


My older daughter has laid her head on my shoulder and closed her eyes.  Up since 5 am, she has been trying to stay awake, too.  She must have entered her brother’s dream, where the music holds sway.  

IV.  Presto, allegro assai.  Here it comes.  I absorb.  And marvel.  And keep thinking, How cool, that from Beethoven’s mind to ours, the connection still holds.  From one mind . . . to many, the music seeks a new home.  And then, the explosive final measures, and everyone’s on their feet, for a full ten minutes, at least, while the cheers echo through the hall.

V.  Presto–recitativo.  Afterward, my kids pose for pictures, though the youngest, still more than half asleep, has trouble finding his smile. 


Date night with the fam.  Not a bad gig.

According to my kids’ voice teacher, the definitive recording of the 9th Symphony is the one with George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra.  Go to Spotify to hear it!

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