10,000 Singers Belt Out "Ode to Joy"

Chris Higgins

In Japan, it's an end-of-year tradition to sing "Ode to Joy," the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The song is so well-known in Japan that it's known simply as daiku, literally "number nine." In Osaka, a 10,000-person-strong "Number Nine Chorus" of amateur singers performs daiku every December, to thundering effect. While there are some professionals involved (the soloists and orchestra), the Number Nine Chorus is largely a community effort. And the sound of 10,000 singers, trained or untrained, is unbelievable.

In 2011, in the wake of the devastating earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, the Number Nine Chorus gave this performance. If you want the most dramatic part, skip to about 6:30, turn it up, and prepare to weep:

Fun fact: according to CBS News:

The Beethoven craze began, strangely enough, during World War I, when German soldiers being held as prisoners in Japan staged the very first performance of number nine here. The Japanese liked what they heard, and by the mid-20th century, number nine had become a holiday hit.

Also relevant (but a huge spoiler) is this climactic scene from Immortal Beloved:

Update, 1:45pm: In an interesting coincidence, this symphony premiered in Vienna 188 years and one day ago.

(Via Kung Fu Grippe.)