Rebellion Fueled by Beethoven

Faculty Sponsor

Jennifer Prough and Katharina Unde


Christ College


Honors Thesis

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-23-2016


The fact that Beethoven’s Ninth was performed at Tiananmen Square, China and Berlin, Germany in 1989 demonstrates the symphony’s potential for communicating across differences of time and culture. By closely examining the first seventeen measures of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, first movement “Allegro ma non troppo un poco maestoso” as well as the student protests in Tiananmen Square, China and the Christmas Day celebration concert led by Leonard Bernstein in Berlin, Germany in 1989, this paper argues that the enduring significance of the Ninth Symphony is possible because of the penetrating themes of brotherhood, creation, and freedom. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is still a work that speaks to contemporary political events where the themes of brotherhood, creation, and freedom are present within the political movements. When Beethoven composed this work in the early nineteenth century, he may have been able to recognize the uniqueness of the work since this was the first time a choir was called for in a symphonic score. The uniqueness and grandeur of this work endures today as Symphony No. 9 continues to be regularly performed around the world, proclaiming its themes of brotherhood, creation, and freedom.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Emily Robinson is a junior studying music industry and business administration. This paper was written as her Christ College Honors Thesis in conjunction with two classes offered at Valparaiso University, "Citizens of the World" and "Late Romantic & Modern Music." The author is interested in symphonic music and its perception and use in modern society. She hopes to pursue a career in symphonic management.

Final Sounding a Note of Freedom.pdf (1763 kB)
Sounding a Note of Freedom: Beethoven’s Ninth in Tiananmen Square and at the Berlin Wall - Honors Paper

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