(Photo illustration: CPR/Brad Turner)

Ludwig van Beethoven's ninth and final symphony took orchestral music in thrilling new directions when it debuted in 1824.

It lasts more than an hour. Its climax calls for a full choir singing poet Friedrich Schiller's "Ode to Joy" with the full orchestra. Its power and sheer ambition influenced and intimidated scores of composers who followed Beethoven.

Watch a performance 

Watch Riccardo Muti conduct the Chicago Symphony in a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony:

Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.

Must-hear recordings  

Some of CPR Classical's favorite recordings of Symphony No. 9:

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Host Monika Vischer on Symphony No. 9:

Beethoven -- socially isolated, struggling with health and hearing loss -- still heard the music distinctly in his head. In the concert hall between his ears, Beethoven crafted his crowning symphony.

The Ninth was the ultimate culmination of Beethoven’s symphonic expression and one of the most extraordinary demonstrations of human achievement you will ever hear. 

Read the full essay.

View all Beethoven 9 @ 9 content.

The Beethoven 9 @ 9 podcast offers an in-depth exploration of Ludwig van Beethoven's nine symphonies, featuring host Monika Vischer and Beethoven biographer Jan Swafford. Hear other episodes or subscribe to be notified when new installments are available.