Somewhere in the great beyond—surrounded by the music of the spheres— Bach and Brahms and the rest of the illustrious Dead Composers Society will be singing Happy Birthday to Ludwig van. There will be 241 Gotterfunken (heavenly sparks) on that celestial cake. The firmament will resound with the Ninth Symphony’s Ode to Joy.
Beethoven’s Ninth is to many people— real or imagined like Schroeder— the ne plus ultra among musical works. Its final movement from which it gets its name “The Choral Symphony” has made an indelible mark on civilization, culture and society. The choral music is based on the “Ode to Joy” by the German poet, Friedrich Schiller. The Ode to Joy has been adapted and adopted by the European Union for its anthem. In Japan, the entire 9th Symphony ushers in the new year. In 2009 there were 55 performances across the island nation. Our CDs themselves owe their bandwidths to the 9th Symphony. It was decided in 1979 that the diameter should be wide enough —12 centimeters—to carry a complete performance of the 9th: 74 minutes! So we can thank Mr. Beethoven for a few more carols for our money.
We are also in debt to Charles Schulz the creator of Schroeder and his pals. Millions of children from the 1950s on may have made their first acquaintance with Beethoven through Schroeder’s eyes. Mr. Schulz himself had a life-long crush on the immortal composer and never hesitated to let the world know about it. Most of us may not know— as Schroeder seems to— the words of the Finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, but we can still listen to them on our iPods. How cool is that, Mr. B.
Note: There were 300 Peanuts strips involving Schroeder and his Fabulous Fav, Beethoven. There is an online exhibit — launched in December of 2009 by the Charles S. Schulz Museum and the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies—of many of them . The link is : www.americanbeethovensociety.org.