Opening Words from Sun. July 30 by Tom Kniest

When I was 9 years old , my father gutted his 40’s-era Magnavox record player which played stacked 78’s and installed a turntable which played 33s, 45s and 78s. He joined a record club, and the first record to arrive was Arthur Rubenstein playing Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto – “The Emperor”.

Now, I know there are many different kinds of music and different ones resonate with different people, but I was enthralled when I heard “The Emperor”, and I listened to it every day until the next record arrived ( more on that later ). Thus began my love affair with Beethoven and classical music. I started piano lessons at age 5, but THIS was a new sound. Life meandered along, I married Donna, had 3 daughters and joined the Ethical Society.

I was a CPA by profession, and we had some investment real estate, so I started a small real estate company and named it Beethoven RE. I bought t-shirts, aprons, tote bags, etc. with the iconic portrait of Beethoven. This is one of two items left – 40 years old – ( point to shirt ), and emblazoned on it is a famous and oft repeated line in the final movement of the 9th Symphony where he set Friedrich Schiller’s epic “Ode to Joy” to music sung in German with a chorus. This always brings tears to my eyes. Translated, “Alles Menschen Verdun Bruder” means “all men are brothers.”

And NOW, Jake, our resident tech expert, will play a few measures of “the Ode to Joy” which he found on something called “SPOTIFY!!”

One of The Ethical Society’s core values says, “I am a member of the world community which depends on the cooperation of all for peace and justice.”

And again, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy says it too: “All Men are Brothers.”

The second record to arrive from my father’s record club was Van Cliburn playing Tchaikovsky’s 1st piano concerto, which he played in Moscow, becoming the first non-Russian to win the competition. Following that he went on tour coming to St. Louis’ Kiel Opera House when I was ten years old. Dress rehearsals were free, and I took the bus downtown and heard him perform this in person. It still gives me chills.

In conclusion, I still have all the records and a turntable, so if you would like to listen, catch me at coffee, and we can go over to my house and feel our spirits sing.

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.