Ode to Joy

"Ode to Joy" (German: "An die Freude" [an diː ˈfʁɔʏdə], literally "To [the] Joy") is an ode written in the summer of 1785 by German poet, playwright, and historian Friedrich Schiller and published the following year in Thalia. A slightly revised version appeared in 1808, changing two lines of the first and omitting the last stanza.

Ode to Joy
by Friedrich Schiller
Autograph manuscript, circa 1785
Original titleAn die Freude
Publication date1786, 1808

"Ode to Joy" is best known for its use by Ludwig van Beethoven in the final (fourth) movement of his Ninth Symphony, completed in 1824. Beethoven's text is not based entirely on Schiller's poem, and it introduces a few new sections. His tune[1] (but not Schiller's words) was adopted as the "Anthem of Europe" by the Council of Europe in 1972 and subsequently by the European Union. Rhodesia's national anthem from 1974 until 1979, "Rise, O Voices of Rhodesia", used the tune of "Ode to Joy".

The poem

Schillerhaus in Gohlis

Schiller wrote the first version of the poem in German when he was staying in Gohlis, Leipzig. In the year 1785, from the beginning of May till mid-September, he stayed with his publisher, Georg Joachim Göschen, in Leipzig and wrote "An die Freude" along with his play Don Carlos.[2]

Schiller later made some revisions to the poem, which was then republished posthumously in 1808, and it was this latter version that forms the basis for Beethoven's setting. Despite the lasting popularity of the ode, Schiller himself regarded it as a failure later in his life, going so far as to call it "detached from reality" and "of value maybe for us two, but not for the world, nor for the art of poetry" in an 1800 letter to his longtime friend and patron Christian Gottfried Körner (whose friendship had originally inspired him to write the ode).[3]



The lines marked with * were revised in the posthumous 1808 edition as follows:

OriginalRevisedTranslation of originalTranslation of revisionComment
was der Mode Schwerd geteiltWas die Mode streng geteiltwhat the sword of custom dividedWhat custom strictly dividedThe original meaning of Mode was "custom, contemporary taste".[4]
Bettler werden FürstenbrüderAlle Menschen werden Brüderbeggars become princes' brothersAll people become brothers

The original, later eliminated last stanza reads

Rettung von Tirannenketten,

Großmut auch dem Bösewicht,

Hoffnung auf den Sterbebetten,

Gnade auf dem Hochgericht!

Auch die Toden sollen leben!

Brüder trinkt und stimmet ein,

Allen Sündern soll vergeben,

und die Hölle nicht mehr seyn.

Rescue from the chains of tyrants,

Magnanimity to the villain too,

Hope on the deathbed,

Mercy in the high (law) court,

Even the dead shall live!

Brothers, drink and agree (with me)

That all sinners shall be forgiven

And hell shall be no more.

Ode: To freedom

Academic speculation remains as to whether Schiller originally wrote an ode "To Freedom" (An die Freiheit) and changed it to "To Joy".[5][6] Thayer wrote in his biography of Beethoven, "the thought lies near that it was the early form of the poem, when it was still an 'Ode to Freedom' (not 'to Joy'), which first aroused enthusiastic admiration for it in Beethoven's mind".[7] The musicologist Alexander Rehding points out that even Bernstein, who used "Freiheit" in two performances in 1989, called it conjecture whether Schiller used "joy" as code for "freedom" and that scholarly consensus holds that there is no factual basis for this myth.[8]

Use of Beethoven's setting

Over the years, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" has remained a protest anthem and a celebration of music.

  • Chinese students broadcast it at Tiananmen Square.[9] It was performed (conducted by Leonard Bernstein) on Christmas Day after the fall of the Berlin Wall replacing "Freude" (joy) with "Freiheit" (freedom), and at Daiku (Number Nine) concerts in Japan every December and after the 2011 tsunami.[10] It has recently inspired impromptu performances at public spaces by musicians in many countries worldwide, including Choir Without Borders's 2009 performance at a railway station[11] in Leipzig, to mark the 20th and 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Hong Kong Festival Orchestra's 2013 performance at a Hong Kong mall, and performance in Sabadell, Spain.[12]
  • The BBC Proms Youth Choir performed the piece alongside Georg Solti's UNESCO World Orchestra for Peace at the Royal Albert Hall during the 2018 Proms at Prom 9, titled "War & Peace" as a commemoration to the centenary of the end of World War One.[16]

Other musical settings

Other musical settings of the poem include:

External audio
Schubert's "An die Freude" on YouTube, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Gerald Moore
  • Franz Schubert's song "An die Freude", D 189, for voice, unison choir and piano. Composed in May 1815, Schubert's setting was first published in 1829 as Op. post. 111 No. 1. The 19th century Gesamt-Ausgabe included it as a lied in Series XX, Volume 2 (No. 66). The New Schubert Edition groups it with the part songs in Series III (Volume 3).[18]
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1865), for solo singers, choir and orchestra in a Russian translation
  • Pietro Mascagni cantata "Alla gioia" (1882), Italian text by Andrea Maffei
  • "Seid umschlungen, Millionen!" (1892), waltz by Johann Strauss II
  • Z. Randall Stroope (2002), for choir and four-hand piano
  • Victoria Poleva (2009), for soprano, mixed choir and symphony orchestra


  1. The usual name of the Hymn tune is "Hymn to Joy" "Hymnary – Hymn to Joy". Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  2. "History of the Schiller House". stadtgeschichtliches-museum-leipzig.de. Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  3. Schiller, Friedrich (21 October 1800). "[Untitled letter]". wissen-im-netz.info (in German). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  4. Duden – Das Herkunftswörterbuch. Mannheim: Bibliographisches Institut. 1963. p. 446. ISBN 3-411-00907-1. The word was derived via French from ultimately Latin modus. Duden cites as first meanings "Brauch, Sitte, Tages-, Zeitgeschmack". The primary modern meaning has shifted more towards "fashion".
  5. Kubacki, Wacław [in Polish] (January 1960). "Das Werk Juliusz Slowackis und seine Bedeutung für die polnische Literatur". Zeitschrift für Slawistik (in German). 5 (1): 545–564. doi:10.1524/slaw.1960.5.1.545. S2CID 170929661.
  6. Görlach, Alexander (4 August 2010). "Der Glaube an die Freiheit – Wen darf ich töten?". The European. Archived from the original on 26 October 2016. Das 'Alle Menschen werden Brüder', das Schiller in seiner Ode an die Freude (eigentlich Ode an die Freiheit) formuliert, ...
  7. Thayer, A. W.(1817–97), rev. and ed. Elliot Forbes. Thayer's Life of Beethoven. (2 vols. 1967, 1991) Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 895.
  8. Rehding, Alexander (2018). Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Oxford University Press. p. 33, note 8 on p. 141. ISBN 978-0-19-029970-5.
  9. Kerry Candaele (6 May 2015). "Following Beethoven's Ninth". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  10. Daniel M. Gold (31 October 2013). "The Ode Heard Round the World: Following the Ninth Explores Beethoven's Legacy". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  11. Video of a "flash mob" – "Ode to Joy" sung at Leipzig railway station (8 November 2009) on YouTube
  12. Megan Garber (9 July 2012). "Ode to Joy: 50 String Instruments That Will Melt Your Heart". The Atlantic. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  13. "Beethoven's Flash Mobs". billmoyers.com. 14 November 2013.
  14. Nougayrède, Natalie (8 May 2017). "Macron's victory march to Europe's anthem said more than words". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  15. "EU anthem played at Proms' first night". BBC News. BBC. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  16. "Prom 9: War & Peace". BBC Music Events. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  17. Excommunication, daisakuikeda.org (undated)
  18. Otto Erich Deutsch et al. Schubert Thematic Catalogue, German edition 1978 (Bärenreiter), pp. 128–129
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.