If one had to name the most characteristic work of the Beethoven repertoire, it would probably be his Ninth Symphony which final movement, the "Ode to joy," is so representative. The symphony quickly became a universal masterpiece, associated to the fall of the Berlin wall or to Sarajevo in rubble. The collective imagery about it seemed to be so developed that the European Union picked the "Ode to joy" as its anthem.
Another popular Ninth Symphony is the one Shostakovich composed in 1945. It was supposed to be written on a similar basis as the Beethoven symphony, in order to satisfy Stalin, who suspected the Russian composer of having anti-communist thoughts. But once more, Shostakovich expressed his opposition to the regime in his own particular way. He did not write a glorifying score; he chose instead to use a modest number of musicians, and a light tone. We can easily imagine how angry Stalin got!
Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra