Ode to Joy

Landa = Literature & Art

October 3, 2009…

Gustavo Dudamel held the globe suspended on a string. For a moment the earth did not spin. It stopped to listen to Beethoven’s 9th.

*                     *                     *

Then the couple next to me started making out and whispering to each other, or rather making competing vibrations to the music. So I nudged the guy, who I’ve known for 13 years. Then she checked her text messages. I took her iPhone and kept it in my coat pocket for her. They listened intertwined.

“Ode to Joy” was nowhere in sight, or ear shot. The 9th is a long build-up to the finale of exuberant celebration. I knew it was coming. They didn’t. They were making their own Ode to Joy.

“If music be the food of Love, play on!”

Gustavo articulated every movement and vibration generated by his players and the organic instruments. Jumbo screens projected three enormous images of him in black tie throwing his bohemian bush of hair back and forth with ecstatic punctuations that matched his butterfly hands. All the musicians got screen time, too.

The making out continued without whispering vibrations…just smacking of lips, like library stacks kissing. Quiet as possible but still noticeable. For context, we had just finished a bottle of wine between the three of us and there was a full moon hanging in the comfortably cool autumn sky.

But here comes “Ode to Joy,” the deaf man’s revelation of sound to describe what my friend and his new girl were feeling.

They were feeling their own vibrations so much that they left early. They missed the fireworks!…the multi-lingual translation on the jumbo screen of the orchestra’s lyrics.

I had goosebumps during “Ode to Joy”–it is eternally mellifluous, and especially endowed with emotion when Dudamel conjures the old master’s work.

The Bowl was hooting and hollering afterwards. The Dude exited and came back three times to cheerful applause. It was a magical evening of love and beautiful music in Los Angeles, CA.


  1. Wayne
    November 3, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    And I was there

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