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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, recorded last fall under Riccardo Muti, will be streamed for free online beginning May 7.

Recorded at Orchestra Hall on Sept. 18, the concert features Muti, the CSO, the Chicago Symphony Chorus (prepared by Chorus Director Duain Wolfe), and vocal soloists soprano Camilla Nylund, mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova, tenor Matthew Polenzani and bass-baritone Eric Owens. The performance, which opened the CSO’s 2014/15 season, will be available at cso.org/Beethoven9, RiccardoMutiMusic.com, and on the CSO’s social media channels including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is recognized today as one of the pivotal works in the classical music history by virtue of its humanistic message, its vast scale and organic unity of design and its ground-breaking “Ode to Joy” finale, a setting of Friedrich Schiller’s hymn to universal brotherhood. Although its greatness was not widely understood in the years after the premiere in Vienna on May 7, 1824, it eventually claimed its status as a cultural symbol of rare importance. Like many of Beethoven’s pioneering last works, the Ninth Symphony stands not only as a monument of its own time, but as a gateway to the music of the future.

“Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is such a sublime work that I only dared to conduct it for the first time after being on the podium for almost 20 years,” said Muti, CSO music director. “To try to understand what is behind this sometimes metaphysical language is not easy, but we realize in the end that the message is universal.”

Support from an anonymous donor made it possible to share the 2014 CSO performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with nearly 2,000 individuals who might not have been able to attend, as well as with a worldwide audience via this free video stream.

PHOTO: Riccardo Muti conducts  in the CSO’s opening-night concert of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, featuring vocal soloists Camilla Nylund, Ekaterina Gubanova, Matthew Polenzani and Eric Owens. | © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2014