Beethoven ended his 9th and last symphony  with the human voice. His setting of Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Joy is a hybrid, a combination of choral symphony – complete with opening allegro, scherzo, slow movement and finale – and variation form.
But it’s not just the form that’s unusual, the content’s also a strangely mixed bag of ‘horror’ fanfares and fugues and – in the middle of it all – the arrival of a French Revolutionary wind band! A mess? Well, that’s the odd thing, it works!!
A particularly messy page from the first movement (poor copyists!!)
The tidier Beethoven: the beginning of the double fugue in the finale
… but, don’t worry, you won’t have to wade through the composer’s errant calligraphy if you want to follow the score. Here’s a much more legible version:
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