Just got blown away by Beethoven on the Theremin

Just got blown away by Beethoven on the Theremin


norman lebrecht

June 16, 2014

No excuses. This is not a new video nor an exceptionally illuminating one.

But watched at the end of a long day, the sight of 167 Japanese students playing Beethoven’s 9th on electronic theremins built into Matryoshka dolls was simultaneously so weird and moving that we felt moved to share it.

See what you think.



  • william osborne says:

    Interesting metaphors here. All those people in perfect rows and columns playing in perfect, meticulously practiced unison. The controlled gestures are simultaneously reminiscent of marionettes and people playing marionettes. The image is enhanced by the metaphorical implications of the Matryoshka dolls, the sense that our search for depth and transcendence is only a larger repetition of the same delusions. The marionettes play the little marionettes all the way down from our exalted rulers under the command of a monotheistic, patriarchal God.

    We are reminded that the music of no other culture even remotely compares to the symphony orchestra’s regimented, hierarchical, and authoritarian social structures. In the Cartesian world of rows and columns, artistic centurions command the legionnaires of the symphony orchestra. For those with the eyes to see, hidden deep beneath this authoritarianism and regimentation lies the centurion’s ethos of Empire and cultural hegemony. It reminds us that Schiller’s poem was originally entitled “Ode To Freedom,” but that for political reasons in a Europe still under feudalistic control he changed the words to the less subversive “Ode To Joy.”