Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Anthem of the European Union

The European Union is a supranational organization for most of the nations in Europe, and unification on many levels have been achieved, such as a common currency. The European Union also has an official anthem, for use at official European Union events. The anthem is adapted from the final movement of Ludwig von Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", from his Ninth Symphony, the arrangement by Herbert von Karajan is the official arrangement. While Beethoven's work has German words by Friedrich Schiller, as the European anthem no lyrics are used officially, rather the anthem is in the "international language of music." The words are translated into the member's official language for use there. Despite protests from musicians for using Beethoven's work in this manner, the anthem was adopted by the European Union in 1972, and has been in use since 1986.

Ludwig van Beethoven baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. He was the most crucial figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical music, and remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.

Born in Bonn, which was then capital of the Electorate of Cologne and a part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in present-day Germany, he moved to Vienna in his early twenties and settled there, studying with Joseph Haydn and quickly gaining a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. His hearing began to deteriorate in the late 1790s, yet he continued to compose, conduct, and perform, even after becoming completely deaf.

Herbert von Karajan (5 April 1908 – 16 July 1989) was an Austrian orchestra and opera conductor. His obituary in The New York Times described him as "probably the world's best-known conductor and one of the most powerful figures in classical music". Karajan conducted the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra for 35 years.

Karajan played an important role in the development of the original compact disc digital audio format. He championed this new consumer playback technology, lent his prestige to it and appeared at the first press conference announcing the format. The maximum playing time of CD prototypes was sixty minutes but the final specification enlarged the disc size and extended the capacity to seventy-four minutes. There are various stories regarding this, one of which is that this was due to Karajan's insistence that the format have sufficient capacity to contain Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on a single disc. Kees Schouhamer Immink, a Philips research engineer and fellow of the Audio Engineering Society, denies the Beethoven connection.

In 1980 von Karajan conducted the first recording ever to be commercially released on CD: Richard Strauss's Eine Alpensinfonie (1915), produced by Deutsche Grammophon.

Through the 1980s von Karajan re-recorded many works such as Beethoven's Nine Symphonies with Deutsche Grammophon's CD booklet introduction saying that he wanted to preserve his legacy digitally. He also pioneered the Digital Compact Cassette though that format was not particularly successful.

Above are miniature sheets of Beethoven, the composer and Karajan, the arranger.