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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When Helen Keller 'Listened' to Beethoven's Ninth

This new to me and quite remarkable: A letter that Helen Keller, who could not see or hear, one day in the 1920s wrote to the New York Symphony Orchetra after "listening" with her fingers, pressed against a radio speaker, to Beethoven's Ninth.  Incredible experience.  Read it all, but one excerpt: "What was my amazement to discover that I could feel, not only the vibration, but also the impassioned rhythm, the throb and the urge of the music! The intertwined and intermingling vibrations from different instruments enchanted me. I could actually distinguish the cornets, the roil of the drums, deep-toned violas and violins singing in exquisite unison. How the lovely speech of the violins flowed and plowed over the deepest tones of the other instruments! When the human voices leaped up thrilling from the surge of harmony, I recognized them instantly as voices more ecstatic, upcurving swift and flame-like, until my heart almost stood still."

Our acclaimed new film (and book) on the Ninth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You might like Klimt's "Beethoven Frieze," based on the 9th. If you haven't seen it, check out the Smarthistory website, complete with video and music.