I learned today that Beethoven wrote his immensely successful Ninth Symphony to convince people that the only way to Joy is through unity. In writing it, he became so absorbed and then personally infected that by the time he and, ultimately, his audience came to the “Ode to Joy”, they were consumed by it.
Beethoven read Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” poem and started setting it to music in 1793 when he was only 22. He returned to his “Ode to Joy” themes numerous times over his lifetime but did not complete a piece of music on it until he was commissioned to write the Ninth Symphony in 1822. He wanted to introduce the human voice to this special symphony about Joy and became the first classical composer to include a chorus and soloists within a symphony.
The Ninth Symphony intended to reflect Schiller’s themes about human conflict resolved by unity. The Symphony’s fourth, “Ode to Joy”, movement begins with outrage and tumult, then restates themes from the first three movements, but interrupted and rejected – signifying conflict. A new theme is introduced, is slowly accepted, and ends with a triumphant statement of the new theme. Human voices are introduced to sing the new theme, “O friends, not these tones. Instead, let us sing more pleasing and joyful ones.” Beethoven’s objective was to display two concepts: the universal brotherhood of man through joy, and love of the heavenly father.
Without knowing the Beethoven story behind the Ninth Symphony, Joy is also how I ended my recent book about the concepts and strategies for sustainably achieving organization change, The DNA of the Resilient Organization. When I began writing the final chapter, I recalled that when organizations achieved the higher levels of unity that lead to greater Resilience, they also reached high levels of organizational Joy. I realized that unity and joy are linked. That is the surprise and wonderful result of working towards unity/resilience!
“By now, you should understand that Resilience = Unity . . . And that true unity leads to joy. The greater the unity, the greater the resilience. . .
“Unity, a collective heartbeat, is achieved with organizational wisdom and strength. The greater the collective Wisdom and Strength, the more likely the entity is to achieve a collective heartbeat, as . . . winning teams . . . all demonstrate.
“It is unity – with one another and with the Higher Power – that enables individuals to take risks, to innovate, to work zealously to accomplish the Mission and achieve the Vision. Unity enables resilience and, ultimately, the Joy of working for a greater good that sustains resilience.”
Excerpts from Chapter 10, The DNA of the Resilient Organization – How One Collective Heartbeat Creates Continuous Competitive Advantage.