Ode to Joy
Saturday, May 5 to Saturday, June 16, 2018
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly One, thy sanctuary!
Your magic binds again
What convention strictly divides;
All people become brothers,
Where your gentle wing abides.
These lines are the first stanza of an ode written in Leipzig in the summer of 1785 by Friedrich Schiller. The lines are probably better known to all of us today in their original German, because the "Ode to Joy" was adapted by Beethoven nearly forty years later as the final, "choral" movement of his ninth and last symphony. And we all know the story how, when the symphony premiered in Vienna in 1824, the aging composer pretended to conduct music he could no longer hear.
In the nearly two centuries which have elapsed since this premier, the "Choral Symphony," with its concluding "Ode to Joy," has become an icon of western culture. It signifies, for many, the advent of modern symphonic music or the hallmark of the Romantic era. It is the Anthem of the European Union today, and its melody has been used in other classical compositions, in popular movie themes, in popular songs and, yes, even in adaptations by Elvis and the Beatles. It is so pervasive in our culture that we must feel a certain embarrassment in even citing it. Yet, who can avoid feeling shivers down their spine when, after the dark and brooding preceding movements, the little melody begins to emerge or the baritone voice breaks forth with...
Oh friends, not these tones!
Let us raise our voices in more
Pleasing and more joyful sounds.
Although it is nearly 200 years old, the Ninth Symphony still has much to say to us today. We live in a time of deep political and social divisions, when acts of "ethnic cleansing," global terrorism, global climate change, and the threat of nuclear conflict confront us daily. In such a time, it is easy to feel anger, desperation, and isolation. Beethoven's Ninth counsels us to simply lay by our darker mood and to seek cheer in art, in beauty, and in a common humanity. It is for this reason that Oxford Gallery has chosen "Ode to Joy" as the theme for its annual invitational exhibit.
An Artists' Reception is planned for Saturday, May 19 from 5:30 to 8:00 PM. The exhibit will feature interpretations of the "Ode to Joy" theme by over 50 artists.
||g. a. Sheller
|Jappie King Black
||Jean K. Stephens
||Jan Hewitt Towsley
|Phyllis Bryce Ely
||Bridget van Otterloo
|Margery Pearl Gurnett