Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th Symphony is considered by many as one of the greatest piece of music ever written. Wagner himself wanted to break with the past, except for his idol Beethoven.

At the end of his life, Beethoven was considered the greatest living person in Europe, above all philosophers, politicians or other artists, and the 9th Symphony was his masterpiece, symbolising the composer's democratic and egalitarian ideals.

Bismarck renamed the 9th Symphony the "Bismarck Symphony". During WWI, it was played to give courage to the German troops, although the Entente Powers pressed them not to do it.

The Communist used Beethoven's Ode to Joy as their early anthem, seeing in it the spirit of their revolution and quest for the brotherhood of all men on earth.

Hitler inaugurated the festival of Bayreuth, not with Wagner, but with Beethoven's 9th. At the same time, the symphony was played on the other side of the Atlantic as a symbol of democracy. Mussolini gave unprecedented open-air concerts with up to three thousands musicians. In Imperial Japan, the 9th was played to the kamikaze pilots before they took off on their last mission.

Ironically, Beethoven's message of peace and brotherhood was used as a nationalist and war-time anthem.

The fourth movement was played at the opening ceremony of most Olympic Games during the second half of the 20th century. It was also used as the anthem for the Unified Team of the former USSR during the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville and the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

In 1989, the Ninth Symphony was performed in Berlin to celebrate the dismantling of the Berlin Wall.

After WWII, the United Nations thought about an international anthem for the whole world, and Beethoven's 9th Symphony was proposed as the best choice, but not (yet ?) adopted. The EU has since then made of it its national anthem (officially since 1985).

Amazing destiny for a single composition, especially when we know that its Beethoven was already deaf when he composed it.