Huib Ramaer

Lecture  (IN DUTCH)


Is the EU deserving of its hymn?

By musicologist Huib Ramaer

Thursday 13 February 2020


How do social ideals relate to the political reality and Beethoven’s grandiose music? This evening, we will dive deeper into the ideals behind the Ode to Joy, the hymn that was written in 1785 by the playwright Schiller and set to music by Beethoven as the finale of his Ninth Symphony. A call for peace, equality and fraternity. An ideal, expressed in music, in which all people live together in brotherly harmony without hurting a single hair on each other’s head. This is what we envision! This must have been precisely what the Council of Europe thought in 1972 when it adopted the hymn as the motto of Europe. Seven years later, this ‘song’ was declared the Anthem of ‘the EU’. An advance on a glorious future that was expected to dawn with the falling of the Berlin Wall. This lecture measures Beethoven and the EU against the moral yardstick. To which extent were the composer and the politicians able to give these ideals concrete shape? And how have we evolved morally since then? And what about Beethoven in Africa? During this lecture, we will also pay a virtual visit to Kinshasa, the Congolese city of David van Reybrouck, where African musicians passionately and diligently have a go at Beethoven’s Ninth.