The article Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ludwig van Beethoven for the Washington Post was born on my birthday, January 1st, 2020. While rereading Martin Luther King, Jr.’s letter from Birmingham jail, I wondered how to connect MLK’s clarion call to embrace the “radiant stars of love and brotherhood” to my own life. It was at this precise time that Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 started playing on the radio. Beethoven’s only vocal symphony is a statement of yearning for freedom in the repressive political environment of Europe after the Congress of Vienna and celebrates ”All people become brothers, Where thy gentle wing abides.“ Hearing Beethoven’s ode to joy theme, intended as a musical representation of universal brotherhood, build an emotional bridge to MLK’s clarion call to embrace “radiant stars of love and brotherhood.”
Conductor Yutaka Sado directs a 10,000-person chorus singing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in Osaka, Japan.