Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium! Is your German shaky? Okay, let the former U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith help you out with a translation that veers bravely from the letter of Friedrich Schiller’s verse yet here and there catches something absolutely right. “Joy, bright God-spark born of Ever / Daughter of fresh paradise— / Where you walked once now walk rancor, / Greed, suspicion, anger, fright. / Joy, the breeze off all that’s holy, / Pure with terror, wild as flame. / Make us brothers, give us comfort, / Bid us past such fear and hate.” Amen. And don’t expect in this lifetime to hear a performance more thoroughly imbued with Beethoven’s message than Muti’s with his beloved team in Chicago. —M.G.
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