Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 turns 200 on May 7, 2024. The deaf, disheveled, irascible but beloved composer’s revolutionary work took the world by storm and went on to be widely viewed as the pinnacle of Western classical music. Musicologist Ted Olson explains why the composition was groundbreaking and what made it so broadly accessible.

Beethoven’s message of universal brotherhood has stood the test of time, exemplified by the European Union adopting the symphony’s signature “Ode to Joy” melody as its anthem. “The aspiration of Beethoven’s ‘goodwill’ symphony continues to inspire a vision of a united humanity,” Olson writes.

This week we also liked articles about Japan’s charm offensive, the toll taken by cyber warfare between Israel and Hamas, and why it’s not far-fetched to believe that someday you may take a ride in an air taxi.

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Eric Smalley

Science + Technology Editor

Symphony No. 9 was the pinnacle of Beethoven’s remarkable career. Boston Public Library/Flickr

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at 200: Revolutionary work of art has spawned two centuries of joy, goodwill and propaganda

Ted Olson, East Tennessee State University

It stands as the crowning achievement of Western classical music.

In an increasingly digital world, children still enjoy the sensory power of being able to touch the books they read. Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images

The power of touch is vital for both reading and writing

Naomi S. Baron, American University

When asked, students say that touch is important in developing reading and writing skills. Research backs them up.

Joby Aviation tests its electric air taxi in Manhattan. Courtesy of Joby Aviation

Electric air taxis are on the way – quiet eVTOLs may be flying passengers as early as 2025

Jamey Jacob, Oklahoma State University

These electric aircraft take off and land vertically so they don’t need runways. And they promise a quieter, more accessible and less polluting form of short-distance air travel than helicopters.

The Conversation News Quiz 🧠

  • Here's the first question of this week's edition:

    University president Minouche Shafik called in the police on April 30 to quell student protests at what New York City school?

    1. A. NYU
    2. B. Columbia
    3. C. Yeshiva
    4. D. Juilliard

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