Thursday, June 23, 2011

30 Songs in 30 Days, Day 7: A Song That Reminds You of a Certain Event

Piece: Symphony No. 9 in D minor: Choral, Op. 125, fourth movement
Writer: Ludwig van Beethoven, text by Friedrich Schiller
Orchestra: Nagano Winter Orchestra
Choruses: Tokyo Opera Singers plus several others simulcast from around the world
Conductor: Seiji Ozawa

The videos above are from the opening ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. I watched from my apartment in Yokohama in amazement. While the technological accomplishment of the simulcast is astonishing, what really blew me away, and what still brings tears to my eyes to watch it now, are the shots of the stadium crowd in Nagano. While the choirs around the world were undoubtedly meticulously prepared, all of the people in the stadium were given lyric sheets on their way in. While some are clearly struggling through, some left the sheets on their chairs and are belting out the German as if they've been singing it their whole lives - because they have.

The Ninth is a very big deal in Japan. They know it simply as daiku, literally Great Nine. It is traditionally performed around New Year's, the most important holiday on the Japanese calendar. When CDs were originally produced by Sony, the Japanese executives in charge insisted that they be long enough to contain the entire Ninth on one disc. Even though I now realize that some trained singers must have been planted in the stadium for the sake of good television, this piece is a part of the Japanese soul and it's no stretch to imagine literally millions of people singing along at home with gusto.


I hope you'll join us for the "30 Songs in 30 Days" challenge, inspired by the tumblr list. Our 30 Songs roster:

Stay on target...
Marc Whitman's Blog
Haley says "Hello" To You

It's never too late to post your own. Tomorrow is...

Day 8: A Song That You Know All the Words to


  1. Not to be repetitive, but, wow. I love that Ode to Joy is such a big thing there. I wish it was here, too.

    1. Going back to the origin of our conversation, Beethoven's a bit like the Beatles. People grow to appreciate him over time. After all, it's Beethoven!