This Cultural Olympiad story was produced in partnership with ArtsATL as part of “Atlanta Remembers: The 1996 Olympics,” WABE’s series on the impact of the 1996 Summer Olympics on Atlanta, 20 years later. For more stories, click here.
Former Atlanta Symphony director and choral giant Robert Shaw was given a daunting task during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and the Olympic organization wanted Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” to be performed during the opening ceremony.
And they wanted a translation with more of a universal flavor instead of an exact translation of the Friedrich Schiller text used for that part of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
Shaw was given the task, and here is what he came up with:
“Joyful, all ye sons and daughters,
Earth’s become a neighborhood.
Sing ye people all together
Celebrate the common good.
Nationals, races, clans and colors,
Share this world and destiny.
Each must share with all the others,
Freedom rings when all are free.”
Listen to Lois Reitzes’ interview with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus administrator Jeffrey Baxter above to hear more tidbits about Robert Shaw’s contribution to the Olympics.