Every person on earth knows this tune. It’s Ode to Joy for fuck’s sake. This shit’s everywhere. You hear it played by young adolescents in school gymnasiums around the world in scraps, squawks, squeaks, and pissed up jeans. You hear it played in the largest of auditoriums by the biggest swinging dicks in the classical game. Shit is basically a character in Clockwork Orange. It’s considered a crowning human achievement. So, I feel like the question has to be asked: which version is the best?
If you haven’t listened to Beethoven’s 9th in full, you should. There’s a reason it’s the fucking bomb. The first time I sat down and listened to it and that big chorus of motherfuckers belt out in unison, the hairs on my arm stood on end and I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. Why? I still have no fucking clue. But there’s something truly magical inside this music. I would even argue that one of the best parts of being human is listening to it. And why wouldn’t you? You want to be that one asshole that hasn’t listened to Beethoven’s 9th?
So, the question still stands: what version is the best? Well the answer is, unfortunately, super fucking sticky.
First off, you can’t bring up the 9th without bringing up Hitler. Huh? Ya, the piece of human garbage. Supposedly that sentient human turd enjoyed himself some 9th. He even wanted it played at his birthday party (fuck that invite). This is where Wilhelm Furtwängler’s name comes to play. Dude could play Beethoven like a boss. But he wasn’t a fan of the Hitler. So he flipped the fucker the bird all music styles. At the last hunk of symphony Furtwängler played the shit superfast out of protest. You can even watch this shit! And, be real, who doesn’t want to watch the musical version of someone sticking a thumb up Hitler’s ass?
Awesome story aside, is this the best version? Really, who can say? Me, I can. It’s fucking not. Strictly on a musically level, Furtwängler’s own 1954 version is better than “Hitler’s 9th”. But the very best ever? That’s really fucking hard. Cause everyone’s dipped their toes in the 9th. You have: Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein, John Eliot Gardiner, Otto Klemperer, Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim, Josef Krips, and Karl Böhm. And if you don’t know any of those names, just pretend you’re surrounded by eight different heavyweight fighters and one of them asks you who you think is the toughest. It’s impossible to fucking answer. I’m sure there’s even some classical junkie out there gritting their teeth so hard their cheeks are shaking and mumbling, “That motherfucker forgot Chailly”. This piece has many interpretations.
Let’s get down to brass tax. There’s a version out there that will make you feel like you’re hearing it for the first time. That shit will fuck you like a virgin. You’ll get chills and swells as you listen to it. Your skin will become more sensitive and you’ll suddenly feel complex emotions. For me? I get that listening to Gardiner. That shit is fire. But the greatest thing that could happen from this silly little write-up is someone taking the time to find their version. It’s one of the main fucking reasons to listen to classical music in the first place. And, come on, you’re not going to let some fuck hat called Brightly Off-Coloured Discophile figure this out for you? So, go ahead. Seek out your Beethoven and find your 9th. I fucking dare you to give a shit.