KVT at Symphony No. 9

KVT at Symphony No. 9


An Ode to our great Joy… (that we managed to see it)

It’s 2010, the big year. A host of really exciting music will be coming our way.

Last weekend the Germans gave us Beethoven’s Ninth with the VNSO under the enthusiastic baton of German conductor Jonas Alber, the glorious massed voices of the Philharmonic Choir Berlin and four equally gloriously voiced principal singers who are based in Germany.

This weekend the Hungarians will give us an Hungarian/Vietnamese celebration headed by Lizt and other Hungarian composers and a Vietnamese composition by Hoang Duong and the VSNO with Hungarian and local soloists.

The cost of such productions is enormous for the sponsoring Governments and their various commercial partners and with the Germans and the Hungarians they did it all for free. If you’re part of a Vietnamese Government Ministry, a Diplomat or Diplomatic staff from various countries, a member of the expat diaspora of the sponsor, or staff, friends and relatives of the commercial sponsors, or an indispensable part of the glitterati set, then you are in musical heaven. If you’re just a unconnected, cultural loving plebian, like most of us, you have to use your cunning to beg, borrow or steal a seat… or buy one for up to 5,000,000VND from scalpers roaming the Opera House steps before the performance of the Ninth.

Thus far our little mob hasn’t resorted to theft… mind you if another beauty like the 9th comes along we’ll seriously consider it… and so far we’ve inveigled our way into Beethoven and Lizt. We’re thinking of forming a Group for the Culturally Unconnected so that more and more of us can winkle our way inside.

The VSNO got off to a great start and by the scherzo were in magnificent swing and then the adagio was almost too beautiful for words (a cloudless tranquility is one description of it.) Everyone was by now anticipating the last movement and we weren’t disappointed. As the first, almost dissonant tones were upon us I could feel the hair on the back of my neck beginning to stand on end and when the baritone intones

O friends
Silence those sounds
Let us sing more joyful songs
Full of ever growing cheer
Joy, Joy, Joy
Lovely spark of divinity…

and we hear Schiller’s words taken up by the other voices that finally take us to the anthemic

All men will become brothers
Beneath your ever hovering wings…

We can’t help but end the night joyfully exhuberant.

It was a Ninth to really remember and you can understand why it is often described as one of the greatest artistic achievements of mankind; why it has featured so strongly in German patriotic movements; why, with new lyrics it is the anthem for the European Union, why… without words it is the anthem for the Republic of Kosovo; why it was played at the fall of the Berlin Wall; why I remember it as a simplified song we sang at school with whole hearted fervor as the Ode To Joy.

What a night of nights and am I ever glad that I was able to wriggle my way in… otherwise I was prepared to pay a scalper… it would have been worth it at triple the price they were asking.

The Germans were magnificent… again!

Not a reviewer, not a critic, “Kiếm Văn Tìm” is an interested, impartial and informed observer and connoisseur of the Hanoi art scene who offers highly opinionated remarks and is part of the long and venerable tradition of anonymous correspondents. Please add your thoughts in the comment field below.


  1. Nếu KVT thành lập nhóm “Không được kết nối về mặt văn hóa”, tôi nhất định sẽ trở thành thành viên.

    Rất cảm ơn những bài bình luận của ông.

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