Will you hop aboard my train of thought with me? It’s heading toward a place of harmony and — you guessed it — joy!
The starting point was a dull morning with not much needing to be done. So I idly began to rummage through a sort-of-jewelry-box, that is, a box containing not real “serious” jewelry but bits and bobs (as the English say) of costume pieces and souvenir pins and such. And there I uncovered a medal, a longago gift from my two German friends. On the front was a stylized Nativity, and on the obverse was this phrase, Freude Ohne Grenzen.
My German is minimal, so I contacted Mr. Google, who informed me that Freude Ohne Grenzen means Joy Without Limits. Or, freely translated, boundless joy. My train, once started, went chugging along to the strains of “Freude, freude”, the Ode to Joy, which I heard plainly in my head without benefit of Youtube (although I’ll be providing you with one before we’re through).
The celebrated Ode to Joy, final movement of his Ninth Symphony, and the most purely joyous piece of music I know, is of course, the creation of Ludwig van Beethoven. But he, I thought, was hardly a joyous man. A passionate man, certainly. Everything he wrote is imbued with passion. (Except perhaps for Für Elise, which may explain why it is my least favorite of all Beethoven’s works.)
But a joyful man? From all the biographies and portraits and biopics, emphatically not. Depressive, moody, angry, intense, oh, lots and lots of adjectives. But I never remember seeing “joyous” among them. Which led me to thinking about the nature of genius. Not talent, there’s plenty of talent around, I even have some myself — but genius, the real thing. Unexplainable and inimitable and illimitable.
Beethoven had genius, scads of it, heaped up and running over. And, I thought, just maybe being a conduit for the divine is no easy task — There’s doubtless a price to be paid for it — How lightly and easily Mozart seemed to carry that burden, but then again, look how young he died, and under what tragic circumstances —- How often I’ve envied genius, wishing I had been gifted with it — And then I remind myself of that old caveat, Be careful what you wish for —- And then (my train is nearing the destination) I began to search among the many Youtubes of the Ninth Symphony for the one I passionately want to share with you, along with my gratitude to the Divine for the genius of Beethoven, and to the man who paid the price for it.
And I found it. This “flash mob” in Sabadell, Spain, incarnates joy without limits. I’ve posted it before, but it sends me up among the stars every time I watch it. Look at the faces of the performers, the passersby, the children —- Look and listen —-
My thanks to you, Ludwig V., somewhere among the stars yourself, for your gift of boundless joy!