Our much-awaited Christmas and wedding anniversary gift that came in the form of enjoying a night of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

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On the last quarter of 2014, the Husband and I discovered a love for classical music. It was such a surprise that we even joked, “We’re really old!”.  Haha. On a serious note, we found that we enjoy listening to music played by an orchestra. We like learning about the history that comes with a musical piece. We are in awe of how an orchestra works together in order to bring out the music they want to share to an audience.

And so for Christmas and our wedding anniversary, we decided to give each other the experience of watching a classical concert. Our first choice was of Beethoven’s famous work, the Symphony No. 9.

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About Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9:

The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (also known as “the Choral”), is Ludwig van Beethoven’s final complete symphony. Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best-known works in classical music. Among critics, it is almost universally considered Beethoven’s greatest work, and many consider it one of the greatest pieces of western music.

The Ninth Symphony in D minor, Opus 125, composed by Beethoven in 1822 to 1824, was dedicated to Friedrich Wilhelm III, King of Prussia, and first performed in Vienna on the 7th May 1824.

Beethoven constructed his symphony and added at the end of the fourth movement an Ode to Joy. To add an ending with choir was an idea on which he had mused upon since 1807.

“Ode to Joy”, is a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803, with additions made by the composer. Today, it stands as one of the most played symphonies in the world.

In 2001, Beethoven’s autograph score of the Ninth Symphony, held by the Berlin State Library, was added to the United Nations Memory of the World Programme Heritage list in 2001, becoming the first musical score so honoured.

During the division of Germany in the Cold War, the “Ode to Joy” segment of the symphony was also played in lieu of an anthem at the Olympic Games for the Unified Team of Germany between 1956 and 1968. In 1972, the musical backing (without the words) was adopted as the Anthem of Europe by the Council of Europe and subsequently by the European Communities (now the European Union) in 1985.[54][55] The “Ode to Joy” was used as the national anthem of Rhodesia between 1974 and 1979, as “Rise, O Voices of Rhodesia”.

The Ninth symphony is traditionally performed throughout Japan at the end of year. It was introduced to Japan during World War I by German prisoners held at the Bandō prisoner-of-war camp. Japanese orchestras, notably the NHK Symphony Orchestra, began performing the symphony in 1925 and during World War II, the Imperial government promoted performances of the symphony, including on New Year’s Eve. In an effort to capitalize on its popularity, orchestras and choruses undergoing economic hard times during Japan’s reconstruction, performed the piece at years-end. In the 1960s, these year-end performances of the symphony became more widespread, and included the participation of local choirs and orchestras, firmly establishing a tradition that continues today.

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Beethoven Nine ran for two nights. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra  was headed by Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, David Robertson. Their performance was riveting and entertaining at the same time.
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Choirs: The Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Sydney Grammar School Choirs and Gondwana Sydney Children’s Choir.

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Soprano: Miriam Gordon-Stewart. Mezzo-Soprano: Michelle DeYoung. Tenor: Simon O’Neill. Baritone: Peter Coleman-Wright

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David Robertson and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as they say thank you to the audience.

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Pre-concert experience:

The concert was at 8pm so we had a bit dinner that was available in the waiting area of the concert hall. We bought sushi and a wrap which we shared and two glasses of sauvignon blanc.

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Water was available in the foyer for guests who would like nothing but water.

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We hung out by the balcony while enjoying our wine and savouring the gorgeous Summer sunset.

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After the concert, we were so happy. We loved our first experience of watching our first classical concert. We left the Opera House on very high spirits. We look forward to watching more classical concerts in future.

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