David Royko Psy.D


Everyone's Ninth Symphony, By Hook Or By Crook

A thread on a closed classical music group I'm in brought to mind this reminiscence...posting it here for my fellow classical geeks and so my friend Bob Alps gets appropriate co-credit (and as another needed break from the stressful political posts these days)...

Speaking of the numbering of Dvorak's symphonies in another thread...many years ago, an old friend (Bob Alps) and I used to joke that, like Mahler, the classical world's obsession with Beethoven's 9th was everywhere. When Bruckner's two earlier symphonies were included, they went backwards, calling them symphonies numbers 0 and even 00 (double zero) so he still ended up with 9 - and the last one wasn't even finished. Schubert had symphonies that were unfinished or nonexistent but somehow they still added up to, voila!, 9. Mahler, of course, truly because of his superstitious Beethoven obsession, tried to get away with the Das lied von der erde ruse, but you don't fuck with fate, so before he managed to finish the one after the one he finally dared called the 9th - croaked. Dvorak, they dug up a few more so he could enter the 9th club. It really made us appreciate the proper British attitude of Vaughan Williams - you want to write nine, you live just long enough to write nine, just nine, no equivication needed. We figured it was just a matter of time before they "discovered" that all of Haydn's symphonies up to and including 96 was actually a huge, most-massive-ever symphony, thus allowing 104 to take its rightful place as a true 9th, befitting Haydn's greatness.


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