English festivalgoers threaten to boycott Beethoven’s 9th

English festivalgoers threaten to boycott Beethoven’s 9th


norman lebrecht

July 07, 2019

The Three Choirs Festival has received phonecalls from Brexiteers, threatening to organise a boycott of a symphony that contains the EU anthem.

From the Observer today:

A spokeswoman for the Three Choirs festival, which is held in Gloucester every three years, alternating with Hereford and Worcester, said that an email and a phone call had made the feelings of a small minority of local people very clear.

“I was told that some people felt it was not an appropriate programming for a concert in an area that voted overwhelmingly for Brexit,” she said. The complainant then promised to call for other people to stay away.

“We can’t be sure this is why there are still tickets,” said the spokeswoman. 

Read on here.


Through two world wars, Beritish audiences flocked to hear Wagner, the most German of composers. The anti-Beethoven intolerance, manifested in this week’s actions of Brexit MEPs (above),  gives the whole Brexit movement a profoundly unEnglish character.




  • Bill says:

    These people are idiots.

    That is all.

  • Stephen Maddock says:

    It certainly does.
    Commissioned by the (Royal) Philharmonic Society of London as well.

  • Derek says:

    These people are zealots blinded by their own intolerance.

    Talk about missing the point!

  • John Sorel says:

    I doubt that the knuckledragging loons behind these crank calls and emails have ever been to a classical concert in their sad little lives. But you only have to look at the UKIP nutters who stood as MEPs (and lost their deposits) to see the kind of dipstick mentality they have.

  • Minneapolis says:

    Let them boycott. Beethoven’s 9th will be around 500 years after they are gone, assuming the human race lasts that long.

    • Allen says:

      Yes, it was around long before the EU was formed and it will still be around when the ridiculous EU is confined to the history books.

    • Micaelo Cassetti says:

      Beethoven’s 9th will be around a damn sight longer than the EU, and all its supporters who are so HATEFULLY intolerant of anyone who doesn’t share their opinion.
      It is NOT Beethoven’s music that people are turning their backs on, but the way it has been hi-jacked. It has been suggested that Schiller would have preferred to write “Freiheit” instead, but the prevalent situation prevented it; I wonder what van Beethoven and Schiller would have felt about the proposed EU army? I don’t remember Wickerl being too keen on dictators !

      I’d sooner listen to the Missa Solemnis, which I suppose makes me a “knuckle-dragging, racist ****wit.”
      So be it.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        “the proposed EU army”

        Sigh. Why do people like you keep coming up with this? Really?

        The EU can not create an EU army unless ALL the member states vote for it. Sure, you can sometimes find someone proposing it, but it isn’t an EU proposal and many (most) EU countries are implacably opposed (not just Britain). It really won’t happen.

        In any case, many (even most) EU countries are willing to combine their armed forces into NATO. Which entails a loss of sovereignty. The issue there, is the extent to which the US will continue to guarantee European security and for how long. And what does Europe do if/when the US withdraws that guarantee.

        • John Sorel says:

          [[ but it isn’t an EU proposal and many (most) EU countries are implacably opposed ]]

          On the contrary, Mogherini has been assiduously pushing this idea for the last 3-4 years, as she wants something she can be in charge of. Being ‘implacably opposed’ makes no difference. Macedonia didn’t want to be renamed ‘North Macedonia’, but the EU had already decided… the referendum was marched over, and the vote was cast in favour. The same will happen with the EU Army – especially now you have a militaristic loony like Ursula Von Der Lyin’ in charge. It’s just a matter of time before it’s adopted.

          Captain Mainwaring and his British forces are already squaring up in Estonia. Von der Lyin’ and Moggy can’t wait to start marching through the boggy marshes of Latvia.

  • Beethoven says:

    Bring it on!!!

    If they want to protest outside it, I’m sure the fact won’t be lost on Remain supporters. If it’s anything like Farrage’s great March, I’m sure a couple of supporters with EU flags will overwhelm them. 🙂

  • Dexter Edge says:

    The link goes to Emma Forrest’s essay about her divorce

  • Nelson says:

    For once, the Americans aren’t the (only) idiots. Wonder what classical rep the Trump-heads would boycott, if they were smart enough to listen (or read) in the first place.

  • Bill Worley says:

    The attitude of Brexiteers is pathetic

    • John Sorel says:

      Exactly. This goes beyond questions of policy on Europe, free movement, and taxes – this is just hate-mongering by a bunch of extremist nutters and a senile, ranting gay-bashing old witch.

  • W. Liam Allan-Dalgleish says:

    That special relationship that exists between the United States and the United Kingdom appears to be stupidity. I speak as a British Citizen and an American Citizen.

  • C_Porumbescu says:

    Read the article.

    There was apparently one phonecall and one email, and the organisers themselves say that there is absolutely no evidence that these have had anything to do with this concert selling slightly less well than others (in fact, it’s one of the least interesting programmes in the festival).

    In other words: there is no “boycott”. Just a story carefully designed to appeal to the prejudices of…well, read a few of the comments here and see who’s risen unthinkingly to the bait. It has, however, been effective in getting some national coverage from a paper which has historically shown very little interest in regional music festivals beyond the London orbit.

    Fake news.

    • Derek says:

      You may well be right. It is likely to be one or two people but it is still true that they are intolerant and their anger and opposition is misplaced.

      Leave the festival and Beethoven in peace.

  • psq says:

    Actually I expect any day now the Brexiters will threaten to boycott/disturb not just the 9th but all music by Beethoven because he had the temerity to write an anthem for the EU, and he was a German to boot. Happy days are here again when UK is Beethoven-less sanctioned by a Tory government.

    • John Sorel says:

      Mr Barrage launched a personal attack on the President of the EU, on the grounds that he is from Luxembourg.

  • Gary says:

    It would be a real shame if morons didn’t make the show.

  • musB says:

    ONE email and ONE phone call… and you put up this story? How easily trolled do you want to let yourself be?

  • Joe Salata says:

    The Ode to Joy? Why boycott that. It’s absurd.

  • Escamillo says:

    I wonder what Wagnerian works British audiences flocked to hear during the two world wars: the ‘Rule Britannia Overture’ perhaps (the Brexiteers would like that) or ‘The Farewell to Mary Stuart’, the American ‘Centennial March’ (he had plans to move with his family to Minnesota), or possibly ‘Tristan und Isolde’, set in Cornwall? ‘The work of art of the future’ said Wagner, ‘is intended to express the spirit of free people irrespective of all national boundaries.’

  • Donald RAE says:

    They are just shouting out to the world that they are fascists, is all 🙁

  • John Soutter says:

    If the Brexiteers are trying to displace Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with his Missa Solemnis, I am all behind them (but I doubt it!)!

  • MSHMD says:


  • anon says:

    Boycotting Beethoven Nine is as idiotic as insisting that everyone in Britain speak English, as Boris the future prime minister does, forgetting that Great Britain is composed of three countries whose native Celtic languages are decidedly not English: Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.

    Keep it up, Brexiteers, and you’ll see the break up of Britain itself, and you’ll see a boycott of Elgar in Britain itself.

    • John Sorel says:

      [[ you’ll see a boycott of Elgar in Britain itself. ]]

      Please let me know where I can sign up for that??

  • Nicholas Cleobury says:

    As an ex Worcester Cathedral Chorister, the 3 Choirs is close to my heart. There should be no place for this idiotic bigotry any where! These insular, small minded people should read Schiller’s words – Alle Menschen werden Bruder!!

  • C_Porumbescu says:

    People – again, please. Read the actual article. There is no “boycott” and no credible evidence of one.

    This is just a sensationalist headline designed to play to particular prejuduces and elicit a kneejerk response. In which it appears to have been strikingly successful.

  • rita says:

    Golly, don’t programme this, then: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXRlGi3dJq0

  • christopher storey says:

    The post which correctly identifies the problem here is the one which complains about the hijacking of Beethoven/Schiller as a national anthem by the EU which is not a nation and has no entitlement to an anthem of any source . It was this which was so offensive about Igor Levitt’s pathetic exhibition at the Proms last year

    • Saxon Broken says:

      “No entitlement to an anthem”

      Huh? Anyone can have an anthem, and for any purpose. There really isn’t a law about it (not even by that “world government” that people like you obsess about). Many organisation have their own songs. Heck, even Wilfried Owen wrote one for doomed youth.

  • Steve says:

    I’m completely against Brexit but maybe boycotting Beethoven symphonies is not such a bad thing…

  • Ian Strange says:

    What an odious bunch of small-minded zealots.
    Saints preserve us!