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Tiananmen Massacre: How Beethoven(‘s Music) Rallied the Students

Tiananmen Massacre: How Beethoven Rallied the Students

“With over a thousand students on a hunger strike in the square, Li Peng announced martial law on May 19. In the square, Feng pulled out a cassette. “The students, when we heard the announcements,” he told me, “we were so angry — and I put on the cassette of Beethoven’s Ninth to cover the voice of the government system. So there was a real battle for voice. Hundreds of thousands of students shouting, as we broadcast the music on the square louder than the government system. I just had a feeling of winning, of triumph.”

“Feng played the final movement of the Ninth, featuring the “Ode To Joy” with the key line Alle Menschen warden Bruder (All men will be brothers) because “it gave us a sense of hope, solidarity, for a new and better future. And it was really fantastic that it changed us, transformed us. We feel finally we regained our dignity as human beings. We were separated by the government, but now we are free. We just feel free. So on the square, we feel a collective feeling of joy. We were free at last.”

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