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Beethoven Frieze

Joy, beautiful spark of god.

This kiss for the entire world!

Friedrich Schiller

Suffering Humankind, driven by longing, begs the knight


shining armor to take up the struggle for happiness. Determina-

tion in his gaze, accompanied by Compassion and Ambition, the

knight betrays no sign of hesitation and sets out to confront hos-

tile forces and temptations. Despite his unswerving will to succeed

he is beset by dangers. The giant Typhoeus bars his way, flanked

by Sickness, Madness, and Death and supported by his Gorgon

daughters, whose gaze—like paralyzing fear—turns the beholder

into stone. Lust, Wantonness, and Intemperance also lurk by the

wayside, tempting the knight to leave the straight path to happiness

and instead live sweet life to the full. Unbridled excess may pro-

duce gnawing care, however, which in the allegory of the Life Ball

a golden angel takes under its wing and shows the path to poetry

as a source of consolation. The arts come to the aid of Humankind

and lead it into an ideal realm in which the journey finds a glorious

culmination. A choir of jubilant angels welcomes the searchers; a

redemptive kiss puts the seal on perfect happiness.

Although the path may be hard, everyone should find happiness

and human warmth at its end. Ignorance as the breeding ground for

“social AIDS” has no place in the Life Ball message, which celebrates

life and human contact in a jubilant Ode to Joy.