Daniel Barenboim conducts Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the BBC Proms

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

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National Youth Choir of Great Britain

Robert Isaacs — Chorus director

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

Daniel Barenboim — Conductor

Program notes

Bringing together Israeli, Palestinian, Middle Eastern, and Spanish musicians in the name of peace and cross-cultural understanding, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra perfectly embodies one of the most resonant verses of Friedrich von Schiller’s immortal poem Ode to Joy, set to music by Beethoven in 1824: "Alle Menschen werden Brüder ... Seid umschlungen, Millionen!" ("All men become brothers... Be embraced, millions!"). As part of the 2012 BBC Proms, the legendary maestro and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra brought a historic Beethoven symphonic cycle (the first of its kind since 1942) to a close in London’s magnificent Royal Albert Hall joined by four soloists of the highest caliber: Anna Samuil, Waltraud Meier, Michael König, and René Pape.

The Guardian critic René Pape marveled at Daniel Barenboim’s interpretation of the Ninth Symphony with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, declaring "I have not heard a more infectious [performance], nor one in which Beethoven’s exhortation to mankind to overcome its divisions was conveyed with more natural feeling.” With its monumental structure, revolutionary use of choirs and soloists, and extreme tempo changes, Beethoven’s Ninth established a Romantic symphonic language that would inspire generations of successors, including Brahms, Mahler, and Bruckner.

A closer look: composers and works

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