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‘All Men Become Brothers’:
The Decades-Long Struggle for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

by Michelle Rasmussen
June 2015

When Germany, and the world, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 2014, as in 1989, there was no better way to express the joy of freedom, than by a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

Beethoven, drawing on Friedrich Schiller, the great poet of freedom, gave us a gift, not only for German speakers, but for all humanity. And, as pointed out by Lyndon LaRouche, to compose such a gift, it is not the love of music, but the love of humanity, which is the source of the passion the musician, no, the human being, draws from. Beethoven, himself, wrote that his call was “to use my art as a means of relieving needy humanity.”

Yes, it is out of this passion, pouring out in tones, that the human moves his fellow men and women to look inside themselves, to find their own fount of creativity, compassion, and yearning to make an immortal contribution to all of humanity.

Let us begin our story at the end, and let us end at the beginning.

Listening in retrospect, you can partake in the future yet to be.

. . .God, like one of our own architects, approached the task of constructing the universe with order and pattern, and laid out the individual parts accordingly, as if it were not art which imitated Nature, but God himself had looked to the mode of building of Man who was to be.

Let us begin with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, which ends with a surprise—human voices intoning the ideas of Friedrich Schiller’s poem, Ode to Joy, intertwined with orchestral voices, to create one of the most moving works of art in history.

Then, let us reverse time, and go back through Beethoven’s thirty year-long quest to accomplish this, stopping alongside some of the musical milestones which led to this immortal masterpiece, conscious of the fact that we can only listen to these precursors, with the tones of their successors ringing in our ears. We will take LaRouche’s concept of time reversal—that the future determines, and changes, the past—and see how that applies to music.

Time node F: 1824: The 9th Symphony

Rarely in human history has there been a dialogue and synthesis of two great minds on the level of Friedrich Schiller and Ludwig van Beethoven, although they never met. The result was the 9th Symphony.

The reader is urged to listen to two versions of the 9th Symphony, especially the fourth choral movement. First, to a performance with the great German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler,1 and then to a performance by the Schiller Institute’s European chorus.2

Near-Hearing and Far-Hearing

In 1824, Beethoven made a musical revolution by weaving Friedrich Schiller’s poem An die Freude (The Ode to Joy) into the 4th movement of his 9th Symphony. In so doing, Beethoven created a sublime unity of effect both within the fourth movement, and, because he musically quotes from the previous three movements, the entire symphony.

The symphony is a good example of musical time reversal in a single masterpiece—playing with time, backwards and forwards—where the unfolding of the music, as it is being performed, is driven by the concept of the future, completed unity, which is present, at all times, in the minds of the conductor, such as Furtwängler, the musicians, and the listeners.

Furtwängler self-consciously named this phenomenon. He described it as the tension between the “Nahören” (near-hearing), the music that is being heard right now, and the “Fernhören” (far-hearing), the future, unified, completed musical idea. The two intersect at every moment, and the tension between listening to the present from the future, and the future from the present, is what gives the composition, as it is being performed, its gripping, driving quality, creating a “dynamic quality of musical space-time.”3

Beethoven was also self-conscious of this when composing. “[M]y custom when I am composing even instrumental music is always to keep the whole before my eyes,”4 and work towards realizing it. He once made a note to himself to sketch out all of the voices as they appeared in his mind, not only the theme, to get accustomed, at once, to the concept of the whole.

In the 9th Symphony, he achieved this unity of effect, spanning crisscrossing directions of time, by bringing the listener along a journey of discovery. He searches for a theme capable of expressing Joy—“Freude”— introduces a lone human voice just at the transition from searching to finding, and then, causes that simple theme to appear as a leading character, as one of several voices (polyphony), constantly undergoing contrapuntal development, by crafting a succession of variations, unceasingly driving toward the last variation in the future, but, simultaneously, always reflecting backwards to the first appearance of the Freude theme, and always having the development process that led to the theme, in the mind’s eye.

In preparation for investigating how Beethoven plays with time in the 4th movement, let us pause to consider the crucial aspect of Beethoven’s creative genius—the non-linear development within his compositions, from one section to another, driven by a specific driving, unifying principle of musical change.

Non-Linear Increase in Creativity

Back in 1977, Lyndon LaRouche addressed the question of Beethoven’s creative process, and how playing, or listening to, Beethoven’s music was the most conducive method of preparing your own mind to do creative work. 5

The key to discovering Beethoven’s creativity is to consider him one of the greatest scientific minds in human history. Look at each of his compositions as part of a process of musical self-development. They are stepping stones along a journey which, taken as a whole, becomes “a process of fundamental, epistemologically6 ordered discoveries.”

That is, view each of Beethoven’s compositions as a new scientific discovery, within a process of leaping (by hops, not straight-lined linear motion) toward more and more profound, revolutionary discoveries.

Then, view the development within a single composition as a series of discoveries, generated by one subsuming discovery, which generates the others.

The measuring rod for musical progress in, especially, Beethoven’s late works, is not fixed, but changes, non-linearly, based on the increasing quality, or density, of development in the next section. Thus, the measuring rod, or to put it another way, Beethoven’s own creative power, is, itself, constantly changing, and he demands that ours does too.7

Beethoven, more than any other composer, made insights into his own creativity, as expressed in his compositions, the subject of his musical consciousness, thus forming his “self-consciously Promethean identity as a musician.”8

Therefore, when we listen to Beethoven’s works, when we envelop ourselves in his creative genius, he can teach us how to be creative ourselves, as Prometheus gave fire and the power of creativity to mankind, enabling us to create something new to pass on to future generations.

Listening to Beethoven’s music, really listening, and partaking in his journey of discovery, then, is the most intensive mental activity you can have.

LaRouche even let us in on a secret—being delighted by the way Beethoven surprised him, being drawn into the driving quality of the development of the music, the progress from one phase of development to the next, created the best intellectual climate for his own creative work.

The Evolution of an Idea

As we will see, after thinking about how to express the central idea in the Ode to Joy in music since at least 1794, Beethoven had come to the conclusion that only the combination of a full orchestra, chorus, and soloists, would be powerful enough to elevate Schiller’s ideas even higher than in the poem.

He had penned words from Schiller’s An die Freude amongst his 1812 sketches for the 7th and 8th Symphonies: “Freude schöner Götterfunken Tochter—work out the overture.” Two pages later, the following themes and motives were found. (Figures 1 and 2)9 Beethoven would use two of these themes in his 1815 overture Zur Namensfeier (Name Day), op. 115, although he did not include Schiller’s Ode.10

Beethoven considered different plans for new symphonies. One was a symphony where one movement would make use of the human voice to unite Greek mythology and old church song, written in an ancient mode. Another plan was for a four-movement symphony, with a musical setting of Schiller’s poem as the finale.

After the 8th Symphony, Beethoven decided to do just that in a German Symphony (Symphony Allemande). But then, he changed his mind, and would use Schiller’s poem as the text for the sublime last movement of the four-movement symphony in D he had been writing.11 Beethoven would later transform the original fourth movement into becoming the finale of String Quartet op. 132.12

Beethoven left a sketch of his search for a basic hymn for the poem, changing the melody and rhythm until he wrote, “This is it. Ha, now it is found,” and, then, “Freude, schöner” underneath the final theme. (Figure 3)

But how was he to make a transition to the poem? There were hardly any precedents, as the human voice had only been heard twice before in a symphony. Beethoven came up with the idea of musically quoting from each of the first three movements, repeating the same dissonant chords heard in the beginning of the movement, and then having the bass sing: “Oh friends, not these tones. Instead, let us raise our voices in more pleasing, more joyful sounds. Joy!”13

In the midst of the creative tension surrounding how to introduce the choral section, Beethoven wrote in the margin:

“Lasst uns das Lied des unsterblichen Schillers singen, Freude, etc.” (“Let us sing the words of the immortal Schiller, Joy, etc.”14

He would use the version of the poem as amended by Schiller in 1803, selecting only certain sections, reorganized by Beethoven’s own ordering principle. The multi-faceted reflections of Joy, brought forth by love, form a progressive manifold, generally ascending higher and higher from the terrestrial to the celestial—in nature, love between man and woman, brotherly love, and God’s love.15 (See box for text)

For both Schiller and Beethoven, Joy (Freude) was inseparably linked to Freedom (Freiheit). Although Beethoven would call forth Schiller’s message of brotherly love, or universal brotherhood, in 1824, as a powerful manifestation for political freedom for humanity, against the repressive police state which Prince Metternich had been constructing after the 1815 Congress of Vienna, his masterpiece would be timeless.16

An Die Freude

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,

Tochter aus Elysium,

Wir betreten feuertrunken,

Himmlische dein Heiligtum.

Deine Zauber binden wieder,

Was die Mode streng geteilt;

Alle Menschen werden Brüder,1

Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Wem der grosse Wurf gelungen,

Eines Freundes Freund zu sein,

Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,

Mische seine Jubel ein!

Ja—wer auch nur eine Seele

Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!

Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle

Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!

Freude trinken alle Wesen

An den Brüsten der Natur,

Alle Guten, alle Bösen

Folgen ihre Rosenspur.

Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,

Einen Freund, geprueft im Tod,

Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,

Und der Cherub steht vor Gott!

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen

Durch das Himmels praecht’gen Plan,

Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,

Freudig wie ein Held zum Siegen.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!

Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!

Brüder—überm Sternenzelt

Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen.

Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?

Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?

Such ihn überm Sternenzelt,

Über Sternen muss er wohnen.


Ode to Joy

Joy, thou beauteous godly lightning,

Daughter of Elysium,

Fire drunken we are ent’ring

Heavenly, thy holy home!

Thy enchantments bind together,

What did custom stern divide

Every man becomes a brother,2

Where thy gentle wings abide.

Who the noble prize achieveth,

Good friend of a friend to be;

Who a lovely wife attaineth,

Join us in his jubilee!

Yes—he too who but one being

On this earth can call his own!

He who ne’er was able, weeping

Stealeth from this league alone!

Joy is drunk by every being

From kind nature’s flowing breasts,

Every evil, every good thing

For her rosy footprint quests.

Gave she us both vines and kisses,

In the face of death, a friend,

To the worm were given blisses

And the Cherubs God attend.

As the suns are flying, happy

Through the heaven’s glorious plane,

Travel, brothers, down your lane,

Joyful as in hero’s vict’ry.

Be embrac’d, ye million yonder!

Take this kiss throughout the world!

Brothers—o’er the stars unfurl’d

Must reside a loving father.

Fall before him, all ye millions?

Know’st thou the Creator, world?

Seek above the stars unfurl’d,

Yonder dwells he in the heavens.3


1. Schiller’s original 1785 version for these two lines read:

Was der Mode Schwert geteilt

Bettler werden Fürstenbrueder.

2. Schiller’s original 1785 version for these two lines read:

What custom’s sword divide

Beggars are a prince’s brother.

3. See the Wertz’ translation of the entire poem.


In 1942, while Denmark was under the yoke of the Nazi occupation, Rudolf Simonsen, rector of The Royal Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, in his book, Sub Specie Æternitatis, about musical masterpieces considered from the standpoint of eternity, concluded his chapter about Beethoven’s 9th thusly:

The great line in music only goes through that music which contains greatness. In the eternal world—there from which the greatest in art brings tidings—every person is entwined in a common bond of love. ’Alle Menschen werden Brüder’—Yes, that Beethoven was drawn by the greatness of these words, you will be able to understand, when you first understand his own greatness. The 9th, in particular, one of the most distinctive art works of all times, sets no limits, but embraces everything and everyone; it preaches something common, something universal, something eternal: the sublime Gospel of the power of man, and human love.”17

The Battle Plan

Beethoven musters all resources available for his gigantic challenge—to write a work where the voices that sing Schiller’s ideas could be contrapuntally18 woven together with voices from the orchestra, to crown the climax of the entire symphony.

This is not an Ode to Joy anthem with orchestral accompaniment. The singing voices become an integral part of what is, perhaps, the most driving contrapuntal development in all history. Beethoven’s contrapuntal ironies and surprises must shine through.19

Beethoven is constantly interchanging between different sections of the orchestra, the full orchestra, and the orchestra with single soloists, a group of four soloists, and the entire chorus.

The Joy-theme variations develop through the use of different counterpoint voices, different rhythms, the entrance of a second theme which leads to the highpoint of the movement—a double-fugue20 between the Joy-theme and the second theme, bookended by two special sections, all of which culminates in a joyous grand finale.

Actually, LaRouche asks us to look at the entire movement as being governed by the late Beethoven principle of the double fugue, even from the standpoint of the Grosse Fugue, Op. 133-134—as a Grosse Fugue for orchestra and voice.

Here is a short overview of the battle plan:

Beethoven began the fourth movement with an astounding entrance, filled with orchestral dissonances—Chaos! Where are we?

The search begins for music capable of expressing the essence of Schiller’s poem— especially that single word Joy, Freude, which, as stated above, is linked to the word Freedom, Freiheit, as the joy derived from the freedom of musical development also underlies. LaRouche sees this Freude/Freiheit interrelationship as a generative principle of development.

The cellos and basses lead the search through instrumental recitatives, which Beethoven said should be played as if there were words underneath the notes—a foreshadow of the human singing that is to come in the future. They are interspersed with musical quotes from each of the first three movements from the past, cast aside in turn, because they are inadequate to express Joy.21

Then, out of this musical wandering, this seeking, and not finding, a simple, folk-song-like theme emerges, which Beethoven will later integrate into an anti-entropic, that is, more ordered, more developed, series of variations.

After a couple of tentative attempts, the variation-journey begins with the softest, deepest, unisonal tones of the cellos and double basses, as if from the shadows, at first, a “song without words,” sung by the same instruments which were searching before. The unisonal is then superseded by the contrapuntal. A series of three beautiful, polyphonic variations ensues, with more and more instrumental voices in play, and, therefore, increasingly intensive contrapuntal development.

After another dissonant disturbance, harkening back to the very beginning of the movement, Beethoven makes his revolutionary non-linear upward jump—the instrumental recitative from before, is now superseded by the startling entrance of a human voice, in the middle of a symphony! In the transcendental passage mentioned above, the lone baritone, in the same tonal range as the cellos and basses, starting with the beginning notes from the first instrumental recitative, and ending with the same notes as the last instrumental recitative, first rejects the past, and then reaches for the future, through his embrace of the Joy theme, this time, a song with words.

“The joining of Schiller’s poem and Beethoven’s tones is unspeakably liberating; it is as if everything in us is expanded through the noble, which expanded the minds of the two great ones. This is not just a question of music, but about the infinite, of which music is a part,” as Rudolf Simonsen expressed it.22

And now, yet another revolutionary leap— an entire chorus joins in! As the next two stanzas of the poem proceed, the four soloists take their turn in the variations.

At the culmination of the rising tones, on the words “vor Gott,” “[standing] before God,” with the tension held as long as possible, it is “as if the gate of Heaven explodes, and we sink back stunned.”23

Out of the silence, a rhythmically vibrant victory march emerges, sung by a soldier and his comrades, leading into a battling double-fugal orchestral variation based on two variations of the theme, which foreshadows the choral double-fugue to come. This is followed by the chorus at full throttle.

Then, there is a dramatic shift, and a second theme enters when the male choristers sing the words “Seid umschlungen, Millionen! Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!” “Be embrac’d, ye millions yonder! Take this kiss throughout the world!” Simonsen writes, “The hymn is for the entirety of humanity: no limits are drawn; all, all are included in the great community.”24

The intensity increases as Beethoven leads us to two deeply moving, ethereal sections, where humanity seeks a loving God beyond the heavens, serving as spiritual paths climbing up to, and down from the summit—a double-fugal interweaving of the two themes from the past— the main “Freude schöner Götterfunken,” Joy theme, and the second theme on “Seid Umschlungen, Millionen!”25

The soloists, with orchestral accompaniment, return to intone sections of the beginning text, in yet another variation, reaching a highpoint on “Alle Menschen werden Brüder,” “All men become brothers,”26 underscored by the chorus, leading to the final variation of the “Seid umschlungen” theme, with full chorus and orchestra, shifting into both a very loud fortissimo, and a very fast tempo.

The symphony concludes in jubilation, as it began, with “Freude schöner Götterfunken, Götterfunken.”

With the completion of the 9th Symphony, Beethoven finally succeeded in his long quest, drawing deeply from his passionate love of humanity, and creative spirit, to create a masterpiece that has inspired feeling souls in every generation since—around the world from Japan, where it is played every year to celebrate New Year; to China; to its birthplace in Germany, when the people wanted to express their unbounded joy after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Even conductor Leonard Bernstein was swept up by the historical moment, and chose to replace “Freude” by “Freiheit” (freedom).

Even if Beethoven had only written this one piece, he would be immortal—but, of course, that would be impossible without the “small steps and giant leaps” he had taken beforehand.

As Furtwängler wrote, “The 9th Symphony is surely the end and the crowning of all Beethoven Symphonies. . . . . The 9th Symphony belonged, according to Beethoven, to the great works of his last period, together with the Missa Solemnis, the last sonatas and the quartets.”

In hindsight, Beethoven considered his “Choral Fantasy” as an introductory study to the 9th Symphony. In submitting the Symphony to a publisher, Beethoven wrote that it was:

“. . . a major new symphony, which has a finale with the entrance of vocal solo[s] and chorus, to the words of Schiller’s immortal song, An die Freude, similar to my Choral Fantasy, with chorus, but far greater.”

Now, imagine going back in time, as a spaceship moves through the stars—with the numbers for Beethoven’s age, and some dates, interspersed with musical notes flying by, stopping at age 38.

Time node E: 1808: The Choral Fantasy

Beethoven would hold an Academy—a grand 4-hour-long concert consisting of the premiers of the 5th and 6th Symphonies, the fourth piano concerto, and sections of the Mass in C. But just as a great symphony has a great finale, how would he conclude this great evening?

Then Beethoven got the idea to unite the full orchestra, chorus and soloists in an homage to art and beauty. The chorus would sing forth Beethoven’s own lofty ideas, which he had asked a poet to formulate. For the melody, Beethoven looked back in time, to retrieve a theme from a previous composition—in fact, a love song. The notes of the Fantasy were barely dry during the dress rehearsal, with Beethoven himself improvising the piano introduction. (Actually, this first performance didn’t go very well at all.)

Text of Choral Fantasy

Schmeichelnd hold und lieblich klingen

unseres Lebens Harmonien,

und dem Schönheitssinn entschwingen

Blumen sich, die ewig blühn.

Fried und Freude gleiten freundlich

wie der Wellen Wechselspiel.

Was sich drängte rauh und feindlich,

ordnet sich zu Hochgefühl.

Wenn der Töne Zauber walten

und des Wortes Weihe spricht,

muss sich Herrliches gestalten,

Nacht und Stürme werden Licht.

Äuss’re Ruhe, inn’re Wonne

herrschen für den Glücklichen.

Doch der Künste Frühlingssonne

lässt aus beiden Licht entstehn.

Großes, das ins Herz gedrungen,

blüht dann neu und schön empor.

Hat ein Geist sich aufgeschwungen,

hallt ihm stets ein Geisterchor.

Nehmt denn hin, ihr schönen Seelen,

froh die Gaben schöner Kunst

Wenn sich Lieb und Kraft vermählen,

lohnt den Menschen Göttergunst.


Flattering soft and sweet sound our lives’ harmonies,


And ever-blooming flowers soar from our sense of beauty.


Peace and joy glide kindly like the waves’ changing games;


What was rough and hostile, becomes a high feeling.


When the music’s magic
and word’s blessing speak,

Something wonderful must happen,
night and storm become light;

Outer quiet, inner bliss reign for the happy one,


The art’s spring sun lets light rise from both (both music and words/poetry),

Great feelings, absorbed into the heart,
will glow again new and beautiful,

Once a spirit has risen,
it will always be echoed by a chorus of spirits.

So, happily accept, beautiful souls,
the gifts of beautiful art.

When love and strength are joined,
mankind has the God’s blessing.

We don’t know how similar that improvisation was to the published version. What we do know, is that “keyboard improvisation was for him a central imaginative process.”27

Beethoven left us a memoir about the structural idea of his improvisations: “Lied varied/at the end a fugue and/finishing pianissimo/each fantasy drafted in this fashion/and then carried through in the theatre.”27 Both the Choral Fantasy and the choral movement of the 9th Symphony begin with a simple lied, or song, which is developed through many variations. In the 9th Symphony, there are two double-fugues (in the battling orchestra variation, and when the Joy theme, and the second “Seid umschlungen” theme, are joined), although Beethoven does not compose a fugue in the Choral Fantasy. Another important element in improvisation was “imaginative freedom entailing abruptness, variety and surprise . . . well-thought-out deceptions, ‘vernüftige Betrügereyen,’ [which] had been identified by [J.S. Bach’s son] C.P.E. Bach as belonging to a good fantasy.”28

Listen to the end of the Choral Fantasy, from the point where the singers join in, as performed by the Schiller Institute’s European chorus.29 (See box of Choral Fantasy text)

Can you hear the Choral Fantasy with the 9th Symphony in your mind? Can you hear the similarities—simple, even similar themes, which undergo creative variations, uplifting ideas sung by soloists, and the full chorus, in contrapuntal interplay with instrumental soloists, and the full orchestra? Can you hear the Choral Fantasy not as an end product, but through the looking glass of the 9th Symphony, as embodying the potential for even greater future creative discovery?

We go back in time once more.

Time node D: 1805: Fidelio

Read the following, from an article in Fidelio magazine:

Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio [first performed in 1805], is the story about how Leonora, a loving and brave wife, disguised as the young man Fidelio, saves her husband, Florestan, the political prisoner of a tyrant. The original play was based on the real-life story about how the American Revolution hero, the Marquis de Lafayette of France, was saved by his wife, Adrienne.

At the end, a chorus of prisoners and townspeople unite to sing “Wer ein holdes Weib errungen, stimm in unserm Jubel ein” (“Who e’er a lovely wife has won, chime in with our jubilation!”) The audience of the time would have recalled the nearly identical words of the second stanza of Schiller’s ode, “Wer ein holdes Weib errungen, mische seinen Jubel ein!”

The musical theme comes from the last line of the most popular version of ‘An die Freude,’ The Ode to Joy, up until then. This chorus in Fidelio shows that Beethoven had ‘An die Freude’ stirring in his musical mind, which is highly appropriate, since the whole opera is a tribute to Schiller’s ideals.”30

As Schiller wrote, ‘The path to political freedom is through beauty.’ ”

Go back in time again, stopping at age 24.

Time node C: 1794/95: Seufzer eines Ungeliebte und Gegenliebe

Beethoven composed an ironical song, uniting two related poems about unrequited love by Gottfried August Bürger. Listen to a recording with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing, and to a performance by Feride Istogu Gillesberg and this author at an International Schiller Institute conference in Rüsselsheim, Germany, on July 3, 2011.31

Can you hear the third section of the song with the Choral Fantasy in your mind? In fact, probably knowing the Choral Fantasy first, you cannot help but have that in your mind, as you peer backwards in time to the song. Can you hear both with the 9th Symphony in your mind?

These ironical juxtapositions, referring backwards and forwards in time, change the past. We hear the compositions of the past with the compositions of the future in our mind, creating a delicious sense of musical development, not only within a single piece, but through revolutionary leaps from one musical idea to the next. A red thread of anti-entropic development of musical ideas and musical forms, and philosophical/poetical ideas, create a oneness out of the development of Beethoven’s creative mind.

Was there an early Beethoven song based on Ode to Joy?

In 1803, Beethoven’s friend, Ferdinand Ries, wrote to publisher Nikolaus Simrock in Bonn, offering eight lieder for publication which had been composed by Beethoven within the preceding four years. According one source, the set, published as op. 52, originally contained nine songs, one of which was a setting of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy.” The composer withdrew the Schiller setting before publication, and no manuscript exists.32

Go one year back in time, to age 23.

Time node B: 1793: The first evidence of Beethoven’s yearning to set An die Freude to music.

On January 26, a man named Bartholomäus Ludwig Fischenich wrote to Schiller’s wife Charlotte:

“I am enclosing with this a setting of the “Feuerfarbe” on which I would like your opinion. It is by a young man of this place [Bonn] whose musical talents are universally praised and whom the Elector has sent to Haydn in Vienna. He proposes also to compose Schiller’s ‘Freude’ and indeed strophe by strophe. I expect something perfect for as far as I know him he is wholly devoted to the great and the sublime. Haydn has written here that he would put him at grand operas and soon be obliged to quit composing. Ordinarily he does not trouble himself with such trifles as the enclosed, which he wrote at the request of a lady.”33

Note the Schillerian phrase “good and sublime” (das Große und Erhabene).

It would take Beethoven 31 more years to accomplish his mission.

Beethoven, who loved Schiller and Goethe more than any other writers34, once said, “Schiller’s poems are very difficult to set to music. The composer must be able to lift himself far above the poet; who can do that in the case of Schiller? In this respect Goethe is much easier.”35

Now just who was this Bartholomäus Ludwig Fischenich who sent the letter? The exciting thing is that Fischenich is a missing direct link between Beethoven and Friedrich Schiller! For his story, see Appendix I.

Five years later, Beethoven wrote two small sketches for the phrase, “Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen” from the Ode to Joy (from the 1798 Grasnick I sketchbook), which you can hear.

Time-node A: 1785: Friedrich Schiller writes An die Freude

In February of 1786, Schiller published the poem An die Freude, written the year before, in the second issue of his literary magazine Thalia.36 This, of all of Schiller’s works, though he criticized it himself, would become the most known throughout the ages, and throughout the world, precisely because a creative genius named Beethoven decided to crown his 9th Symphony with a section of the poem.37

Schiller, himself, wrote of the poetical idea behind An die Freude:

Let us be conscious of a higher ideal unity and by means of brotherhood we will attain to this state . . . Joy is beautiful because it provides harmony, it is ‘god-descended’ because all harmony is derived from the Master of Worlds and flows back to him.”38

Beginning with the immortal words “Freude, schöner Götterfunken,” Schiller begins the poem by metaphorically speaking to Joy, the daughter of the gods, who appears as beautiful godly lightning (the which Prometheus stole in order to give knowledge to mankind, also a reference to Benjamin Franklin).39 We become drunk with Joy’s fire, as we enter her realm. It is Joy, or, the pursuit of happiness, as written in the American Declaration of Independence, which supplants the traditional class system, with brotherhood—uniting all humanity in the joy of republican freedom.

But Joy is also the motive force in the physical universe. It is Joy that causes the procession of the heavens. Joy smiles on the truth seeker from the truth’s own fiery mirror. And Joy is entwined with love, or the Greek concept of agape40—beyond the heavens is a loving father.

Schiller had written the poem while visiting his very close friend and philosophical interlocutor, Christian Gottfried Körner (1756-1831). Actually, Körner was the first to compose a musical setting of the poem. In a letter to the publisher of Thalia, Georg Joachim Gishen, Schiller wrote, “The poem is beautifully set to music by Körner. What do you think about the idea of printing the music as well?”41 which they did.42

Körner’s Ode to Joy

It was Körner’s musical setting of the Ode to Joy which was sung to mourn Schiller in Humlebæk, Denmark, when the Danish poet Jens Baggesen and those gathered for a celebration of Schiller, received the shocking news that Schiller had died. They wrote a new text which read:1

Unser todte Freund soll leben! Our departed friend shall live!

Alle Freunde stimmet ein! All friends join in kind!

Und sein Geist soll uns unschweben And his spirit shall surround us

Hier in Hellas Himmelhain. Here in Hellas’ heavenly shrine.

Tutissimi: Jede Hand emporgehoben! Everybody raise his hand!

Schwört bei diesem freien Wein: Swear by this free wine:

Seinem Geiste treu zu sein To be faithful to his spirit

Bis zum Wiedersehn dort oben! Until we meet again above!

As it turned out, they later learned that Schiller had not died, but was very sick, and could not rest because he needed to write in order to sustain his family. This, then, led Baggesen to organize the Danish Prince Friedrich Christian of Augustenborg, and Finance Minister Schimmelmann, to give Schiller a several-year stipend. As an expression of gratitude, Schiller wrote a series of philosophical letters to the prince, which laid the basis for his great work, The Aesthetical Education of Man.

1.The Danish Help to Schiller: How the Danish Marquis de Posa and Don Carlos Saved Friedrich Schiller,” by Tom Gillesberg.


It took Beethoven at least 31 years, but, with his increasing mastery of musical creativity, he would finally succeed in composing a masterpiece where Schiller’s ideas and his music rose together to achieve a higher unity.

Schiller Speaks Directly to ‘The Artists’

In 1789, four years after composing the “Ode to Joy,” Schiller wrote the philosophical poem “The Artists,” which develops the idea that it is through beauty, that one reaches truth. It both directs those seeking truth to immerse themselves in beautiful works of art, and speaks directly to the artist about his or her role in the process. This poem contains the seed-crystals of the ideas that Schiller would elaborate five years later in his seminal work, The Aesthetical Education of Man.43

Beethoven was 19 years old at the time, and although we don’t know whether he read this particular poem then, or later, Schiller’s ideas about the role of art, and the artist, would very likely have been discussed by Beethoven and his intellectual friends and mentors in his formative days in Bonn, and later in Vienna.

Before we end our discussion, it would be fitting for us to look at some of these ideas, because they help unveil the great purpose behind Beethoven’s mission—in his image of God the Creator, to perfect his ability to use his creative powers, through the art of music, for the benefit of mankind.44

Only through Beauty’s morning-gate
Can you penetrate the land of knowledge . . .
For what we here experience as beauty
We will one day meet again as truth.44A

At first, the light of truth is too blinding to look into directly, but beauty will pave the way. Through the joy of experiencing beauty, that which is experienced by the senses is ennobled, but in a playful way, which maintains the freedom of the individual.

The quality of beauty cannot be fixed, but must constantly be developed by the artist to reach higher and higher levels.

Yet higher still, to ever higher heights Creative genius soared.
From past creations one sees new creations arise,
Harmonies out of harmonies..44B

The artist’s insight into his or her own power of creativity increases with each creation, enabling the next to be even more creative. It is not only the quality of the art which increases, but the quality of the creative thought process behind the art. There is an increase in what you could call, “creativity-flux-density.”45

The wider thoughts and emotions open to the more exuberant interplay of harmonies, to beauty’s more luxuriant stream—the more beautiful pieces of the universal plan . . . so lead him along the hidden course through every purer forms, pure music . . ..44C

Beethoven understood this:

The true artist has no pride. He sees unfortunately that art has no limits; he has a vague awareness of how far he is from reaching his goal; and while others may perhaps be admiring him, he laments the fact that he has not yet reached the point whither his better genius only lights the way for him like a distant sun.46

Schiller wrote that if you elevate man with more and more beauty, “he will glide into the arms of truth.” After arriving at reason, man sees that it was beauty that guided him there. Then, as Helga Zepp-LaRouche stated in her analysis of “The Artists,” love, beauty, freedom and truth become the same. Schiller speaks directly to the artist:

The dignity of mankind has been placed in your hands;
Protect it!
It sinks with you! With you it will ascend!
Poetry’s sacred magic serves
A wisely-laid universal plan;
Steer it calmly towards the ocean
Of the great harmony!

As Helga Zepp-LaRouche expressed it, “the task of art . . . : to improve and ennoble the human soul.”

Beethoven was very conscious that this was his mission—that he would even have to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”—his deafness, and his other physical maladies, which caused him to shun social life—because he knew that he could not leave this world because of his art. Because his mission was not yet completed. He knew that he was not finished developing his art to the highest level that he was capable of. The goal of his art was nothing less than to improve and ennoble the souls of humanity.47

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, a gift from his creative spirit to the world, would do just that.

What would Schiller have said if he could have heard Beethoven’s 9th Symphony? Well, we know that Schiller himself, one of greatest ever to wield the power of the word, understood that the power of music could lead us beyond the domain of words. Schiller put it this way:

There is something mysterious in the effect of music, that it moves our inner self, so that it becomes a means of connection between two worlds. We feel ourselves enlarged, uplifted, rapt—what is that called other than in the domain of Nature, drawn to God? Music is a higher, finer language than words. In the moments, where every utterance of the uplifted soul seems too weak, where it despairs of conceiving more elegant words, there the musical art begins. From the outset, all song has this basis.48

This same idea is poetically expressed in Schiller’s “Homage to the Arts,” his last completed work, from 1804:

The power of tones, which from the strings is welling,
Thou playest mightily, it well thou ken’st,
What is the bosom with foreboding swelling,
Is in my tones alone in full expressed;
And if I start my scale of tones, I bear thee
Upon it upward to the highest beauty.


Think of the long arc of the artist’s development of an idea across an entire lifetime. Think about Beethoven’s intention to set “An die Freude” to music. At each breakthrough, the artist reaches back and changes history—as in a fugue—where the theme is not the same by the time it reaches the end, even though it contains the same notes. So, also, the development of musical and poetical ideas throughout a lifetime of experimentation, and higher levels of the mastery of creative expression.

At each breakthrough, the precursors to that discovery change. We hear the echoes from the past, in the masterpieces of the future. And we hear the echoes from the future, in those earlier signposts along the way—the emanations of the creative spirit, yearning to break with the constrictions of “tradition,” to experiment with bold, new ways to increase, as Shelley wrote, “the power of communicating and receiving intense and impassioned conceptions respecting man and nature,” and to increase the power of human creativity itself.


Download (PDF, 5MB)

I: Three “missing” personal links between Schiller and Beethoven

II. Beethoven’s reflections about creativity, immortality, and the role of the artist in ennobling society


4. Stated while composing his opera Fidelio, fn. 49 in Solomon, Maynard, “Reason and Imagination: Beethoven’s Aesthetic Evolution,” essay in Beethoven Essays, University of California Press, 2003, p. 98.

6. The study of the nature and basis of knowledge.

7. “Instead of imagining space-time as measuring displacements according to a fixed reference-scale, imagine that forward displacements of a space-time-matter continuum change the ostensibly linear scales employed for the preceding moment. Imagine that this change in the basis-measurement is of such a form that instead of measuring displacement of the developing continuum according to linear (scalar) magnitudes of increments of time, distance, mass-energy, and so forth, that the scale of measurement is a series of numbers determined by an exponential function. That is perhaps the best heuristic representation of the general idea for today’s ordinary informed consciousness. It also expresses precisely the consequence of Beethoven’s approach to composition in the late quartets and related works.” LaRouche, op. cit.

8. LaRouche, Lyndon, The Florestan Principle in Art, 1977, The Schiller Institute at:

9. “Fürsten sind Bettler.” “Princes are beggars”! John Sigerson, the Schiller Institute’s musical director, pointed out that it’s amazing that Beethoven didn’t get thrown into prison for writing that, showing how much he was protected by certain powerful circles in Vienna.

10. It was supposed to be performed on the name day of Austrian Emperor Franz I, as a patriotic celebration after the downfall of Napoleon, who had occupied Vienna while Beethoven lived there. “The poetical idea of the work was not essentially changed—the joy of liberated Europe simply taking the place of the joy of Schiller’s poem,” wrote Beethoven biographer Thayer. Beethoven shared Schiller’s deeply felt longing for political freedom. Beethoven’s motto was: “To do good whenever one can, to love liberty above all else, never to deny the truth, even though it be before the throne,” written in 1793. “Wohltunen, wo man kann;/Freiheit über alles lieben;/Wahrheit nie, auch sogar am/Throne, nicht verleugnen. Krogh, Torben and Berg.” Sigurd, Beethovens 9. Symfoni, Rosenkilde og Baggers Forlag, Copenhagen, 1949. English translation:

11. Thayer reports that the first three movements were already written, but Jan Swafford in his new biography Beethoven, argues that Beethoven wrote the first three movements with the new last movement in mind.

12. Bonnie Koo, Symphony with Final Chorus on Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” Classical Net, 1997.

14. In October 1823, Beethoven’s friend Schindler wrote, “One day he burst into the room and shouted at me: ‘I got it! I have it!’ He held his sketchbook out to me so that I could read: “Let us sing the song of the immortal Schiller”; then a solo voice began the hymn of joy.” (Plantiga, 64)

16. Sachs, Harvey, review of his book The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824.

17. Simonsen, Rudolf, Sub Specie Æternitatis, Wilhelm Hansen, Copenhagen, 1942, page 155. Translated from the Danish by this author.

18. The art of weaving several independent voices together into a whole, dynamically changing, musical fabric.

19. LaRouche, Lyndon, “The Secret of Ludwig van Beethoven,” op. cit.

20. A fugue, taken from the Italian word “to hunt,” is the name of a piece of music where a short musical motif, called the subject, first appears alone, and then, in turn, as the other voices enter, in succession, as if they are chasing each other. A double fugue is when, not one, but two fugal subjects are employed, as counterpoint to each other. This makes the contrapuntal development doubly intensive.

21. Maybe this condensation of time, is what led LaRouche to assert that the transitional bass recitative section superseded Bach’s fugal stretto. A stretto, from the Italian for narrow or close, is when fugal entrances start before they had previously, overlapping each other, causing a condensation of time, and an intensification of effect.

22. Simonsen, op. cit., page 152.

23. Ibid.

24. Ibid, page 153.

25. Listen to the video by Fred Haight from the LaRouche movement: “How Beethoven Thinks: The Double Fugue in the Ode to Joy!”

26. Where Joy’s gentle wings wave.

27. Pascal. 108

28. Pascal, p. 109.

29. Start at 82:52 min.:

31. From a Schiller Institute conference: /watch?v=ozEm_snj9BM, Fischer-Dieskau: 40

33. Thayer 120-121.

34. From a letter to his publisher requesting the complete works of both, which they did not send him. During his early career Beethoven acquired some volumes of Friedrich Schiller’s collected works (including Wilhelm Tell and Die Jungfrau von Orleans), and later owned the entire series.

35. Beethoven to Czerny, 1809, in Thayer’s Life of Beethoven, rev. and ed. by Elliot Forbes (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967), vol. I, p. 472.

37. In 1800, Schiller wrote to Körner calling the poem “detached from reality” and “of value maybe for us two, but not for the world, nor for the art of poetry,” but, then he amended the poem in 1803, changing two of the lines in the beginning, and removing the last verse and chorus.

38. Quoted in Swafford, Jan, Beethoven, from Lockwood, Beethoven: The Music and His Life, p. 422.

39. Lyndon LaRouche wrote in Prometheus and Europe, “. . . contemporary European republican opinion modelled its references to Benjamin Franklin as a ‘new Prometheus.’ They spoke of Franklin in terms of ‘God’s sparks.’ The latter reference is that adopted so famously by Friedrich Schiller in his ‘An Die Freude,’ and by Beethoven for his Ninth Symphony. This is also Schiller’s pervasively implied conception of the Prometheus image itself.”

40. Divine love, and love for your fellow man.

41. Baird, Olga, Early settings of the “Ode to Joy”: Schiller-Beethoven-Tepper, Musical Times, Spring 2013.

42. Körner asked Schiller to write the poem for Körner’s Masonic group, and Schiller dedicated the poem to Körner and his wife Dora Stock on the occasion of their wedding.

43. Zepp-LaRouche, The Secret Knowledge of Friedrich Schiller, Campaigner, June 1980, page 20. See: (ignore the ad and the 404 page not found error in the main frame; click the link to page 021 in the left column frame to see the first page of the text in the main frame; click the link to page 022 to see the next page, etc. IF YOU DON'T SEE THE LEFT COLUMN FRAME WITH LINKS, OR THOSE LINKS DO NOT WORK, download the zip archive at The quotes from The Artists that follow are from a non-rhyming translation by John Sigerson and John Chambliss, in Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s article, page 34, which includes her analysis of The Artists. For a translation in the spirit of Schiller’s rhyme and meter, and analysis, see Wertz, Marianne.

44. Thanks to Leni Rubinstein for the idea that Beethoven and Schiller are linked through the ideas expressed in “The Artists.”

44A. Friedrich Schiller, “The Artists.”

44B. Ibid.

44C. Ibid.

45. Analagous to LaRouche’s concept of energy flux density.

46. The quote is from Beethoven

47. See Beethoven’s Heiligenstadt Testament.

48. Letter to Caroline von Wolzogen, cited in Hellenbroich, Anno, “Beethoven’s Creative Process of Composition: Reflections on Leonore (1806)and Fidelio (1814)”