'Ode to Joy"

cialized specialists could possibly master ever tinier

and tinier snippets of knowledge. They magically

designate the year of Leibniz's death'as the date after

which universal knowledge was supposedly no longer

possible--an 'assertion just as mystical as the attempt

of certain cult-ridden zero growth advocates to fix

the year 1972 as the point at which all world progress

ceased. It is altogether natural that these specializing

specialists never produced anything essentially new,

save an astounding quantity of footnotes.

For the Platonists and Neoplatonists, man is not

simply the most developed part of the universe, but

rather the very development of the universe takes

place precisely by virtue of the human soul's creative

capacity. To them, it is completely obvious that the

overall coherence of the universe can indeed exist

within the reason of one human being. A fundamental

forward step in human knowledge, as both Nicholas

of Cusa and Schiller affirm, can only occur when one

chiller was able to integrate the most human being has made all the knowledge of his epoch

_,_ advanced principles of contrapuntal mus- his own.

ical composition directly into his poems. Pre- To do this it really is not essential to know what

cisely because of this subtle interplay of happened at 9:32 A.M. on the island of Honolulu in

rhythmic and tonal variation inside the po- the year 1104. What is necessary is to master the most

etry itself, only a true master of musical advanced current knowledge available in the decisive

composition could ever hope to succeed in fields. Only in this way can you seek out the cohersetting

Schiller to music. Even Ludwig van ence underlying the lawfulness of all these fields, and

Beethoven did not take up this challenge to then locate that unresolved problem whose solution

lightly. His biographer Thayer documents establishes a higher level of knowledge that will bear

how the young composer's initial idea of fruit in all of them.

setting Schiller's poem "An die Freude" ("To

In such a process, of course, many minds can and

Joy") grew over a span of decades into a must work together. This is possible for Neoplatonists

project which would crown his entire ca- alone, for only among them does the "intimate

reer--the Ninth Symphony (1824). The final sharing of all the mind's possessions" prevail, whereas

"choral" movement of this symphony dem- the Brotgelehrtenenvy each other's barren ideas. But it

onstrates how Beethoven not only grasped is the reason of a single creative soul which brings the

Schiller's idea of the higher unity of Joy, decisive new conception into being.

Freedom, Love and Necessity, but also found

Hassan ibn Saba, the 11th-century leader of the

a unique method of expressing this musically: Assassins, propounded the same argument, going so

the "double-fugal" method, far as to say that the human species has often produced

We probably have Beethoven's enemies only one single such universal mind in a century.

to blame for the fact that Beethoven never With few exceptions, this assertion has proven true

composed any of Schiller's other major up to the present day. Himselfa master at developing

works. Carl Czerny relates how in 1809 methods of building a political organization, Hassan

Beethoven was intent on writing all the ibn Saba defined the relation of this individual uniincidental

music for Schiller's drama William versal mind to his contemporaries in the following

k Tell, which was to be staged in Vienna that way: Either someone needs a teacher for his developseason.

After much intriguing, however, this ment, in which case he must have a teacher; or he

assignment was given to a minor composer, does not need a teacher because no one can teach him

while Beethoven was asked instead to compose

music for another drama about to be more than he already knows he is the first teacher.

Schiller devoted his life and many of his works to

staged there--Goethe's Egmont. the creation and development of such extraordinary

Photo: Bust of Beethoven in NY Central Park. universal individuals; he knew personally the high

degrees of consciousness andtireless struggle required


32 June 1980 / CAMPAIGNER

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