As ironic (or possibly just incidental) happenstance would have it, one of classical music's most prominent composers also happened to be stone deaf. The composer in question, of course, was Ludwig van Beethoven, who was born in Germany in the late 1700s.---

Beethoven's most celebrated composition, Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, was composed nearly three decades after he lost his hearing circa 1796, and was the final symphony of his career. The well-circulated story goes that the resourceful composer sawed the legs off his piano, and composed, lying with his head against the floor so he could feel the vibrations. The final movement, the infamous "Ode to Joy," utilizes four vocal soloists, with lyrics adapted from a poem of the same name by Friedrich Schiller.

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For New Year's, Pages & Stages attended the public dress rehearsal of the Santa Fe Concert Association's Beethoven's Ninth performance at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. (There seems to be a nasty flu going around, which is why this edition of Pages & Stages is arriving a bit later than planned.) The main performance followed later that evening.

The performance clocked in at approximately 80 minutes with no intermission. (As an amusing aside, the first compact discs were purportedly set at 74 minutes long specifically so a single disc could hold a full recording of the symphony.) No matter how much you love classical music, this can end up feeling a bit long, but the Concert Association orchestra provided an engaging performance that managed to hold the attention. Vocal work for the final movement was strong, with the four soloists balanced so their voices carried over the orchestra, and the chorus succeeding in capturing the air of exaltation required of the work. A moment of overly airy woodwinds during the second movement and a hiccup by the strings during the third marked the dress rehearsal nature but, overall, the performance was very strong.