The unofficial anthem of the European Union, heard at numerous political, cultural and sportive public events, is the “Ode to Joy” melody from the last movement of Beethoven 9th symphony, a true “empty signifier” that can stand for anything.
at bar 331, the tone changes totally, and, instead of the solemn hymnic progression, the same “Joy” theme is repeated in the marcia Turca (“Turkish march”) style, borrowed from the military music for wind and percussion instruments that 18th century European armies adopted from the Turkish Janissaries – the mode is here that of a carnivalesque popular parade, a mocking spectacle… (Some critics even compare the “absurd grunts” of the bassoons and bass drum that accompany the beginning of the marcia Turca to farts) and after this point, everything goes wrong, the simple solemn dignity of the first part of the movement is never recovered
The only radical solution is to shift the entire perspective and to render problematic the very first part of the fourth movement: things do not really go wrong only at the bar 331, with the entrance of the marcia Turca, they go wrong from the very beginning – one should accept that there is something of an insipid fake in the very Ode to Joy, so that the chaos the enters after the bar 331 is a kind of the “return of the repressed,” a symptom of what was wrong from the very beginning.
What if the true obscenity is what takes place BEFORE the marcia Turca, not after it? What if we shift the entire perspective and perceive the marcia as a return to everyday normality that cuts short the display of preposterous portentousness and thus brings us back to earth, as if saying “you want the celebrate the brotherhood of men? Here they are, the REAL humanity…”?
against the populist temptation (text)
signs from the future (video)