Liberation Then and Now

The metaphor keeps unfolding in the coincidence of the U.S. presidential election and the run-up to the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, December 16.  On Election Day, I think I heard our local classical music station play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony three times, even though I wasn’t paying close attention.  Soaring and powerful, his 5th gained enduring association with resistance to and liberation from fascist oppression – and association with D-Day – when the BBC used the symphony’s first four notes on a kettle drum to begin each of its broadcasts to Nazi occupied Europe: fate knocking on the door, dot-dot-dot-dash, Morse code for the letter V – and for victory.

The counting of votes that continues, however, now brings to mind Beethoven’s Leonora Overture No.3 from his only opera, “Fidelio.” “Fidelio” is the love story of a devoted and determined wife’s fight to save her oppressed and imprisoned husband – or a great nation? – who faces execution.  The overture begins in dark despair – metaphorically a red mirage? Then, a distant trumpet signals coming liberation – from Georgia?  And soon, another still closer trumpet call – from Pennsylvania? YES!


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