"For a long time Beethoven was unsure whether he ought to write a choral symphony or not, before deciding to use Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ for the last movement of his 9th symphony. He could not know that this work would be his last symphony, and that ‘nine’ would always be regarded as a ‘fateful number’ for the symphonic works of others. This work received its first performance in Vienna in 1824, under his own direction (Beethoven was already almost completely deaf by then!).
In 1991 Kurt Masur conducted the choir and orchestra of the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, whose direction he took over in 1970. The events of 1989 have left Masur and the Gewandhaus orchestra forever linked in people’s memories. The quartet of soloists in this performance consisted of Venceslava Hruba-Freiberger, Doris Soffel, James Wagner and Gwynne Howell."