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Music for Thanksgiving: Let 'All Men Become Brothers' | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Music for Thanksgiving: Let 'All Men Become Brothers'

Last year, at this time, in a different  space, I highlighted what I consider the greatest "thanks-giving" music ever, the third movement of Beethoven's opus 132 string quartet, which he labeled a Hymn of Thanksgiving, or "Heiliger Dankgesang," on overcoming a serious illness. It proved very popular, so I've posted it again at the very bottom of this page—but now I'd like to offer for this day (also below) Beethoven's wish for universal brotherhood, at the close of his epic NInth Symphony.

The composer opened the earlier "Ode to Joy" section by offering advice that many political or media bloggers might want to heed today:  "Oh friends, not these tones! / Rather, let us raise our voices in more pleasing / And more joyful sounds!" 

While much of the finale is based on Schiller's poem, those words are from Beethoven himself. He also added this crucial urging: "All men become brothers!"  (Alle Menschen werden Brüder)

It's one reason that when Leonard Bernstein led the playing of the Ninth to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall the title was changed from "Ode to Joy"  to "Ode to Freedom." And it's why it might be called the only universal anthem, embraced all over the world.

If there's a more beautiful, profound, spiritual, piece of serious music, please let us know about it in Comments. 

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