Following the Ninth
Following the Ninth
Following the Ninth
Following the Ninth
Following the Ninth
Following the Ninth

Following the Ninth

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    • Directed by: Kerry Candaele
    • Released: 2018 educational release
    • Year of Production: 2013
Running Time: 73 min 
Language: English, Closed Captioned
Subjects: Music History, Art, Human Rights, Sociology, Social Movements


Following the Ninth is a documentary film about the global impact of Beethoven’s final symphony. The film, released in mid-2013, has screened in over 250 cities in the United States and around the globe, with more to come. 


Written in 1824, near the end of Beethoven's life, the Ninth Symphony was composed by a man with little to be thankful for. Sick, alienated from almost everyone, and completely deaf, Beethoven had never managed to find love, nor create the family he’d always wanted. And yet, despite this, he managed to create an anthem of joy that embraces the transcendence of beauty over suffering.

Celebrated to this day for its ability to heal, repair, and bring people together across great divides, the Ninth has become an anthem of liberation and hope that has inspired many around the world:

  • At Tiananmen Square in 1989, students played the Ninth over loudspeakers as the army came in to crush their struggle for freedom.
  • In Chile, women living under the Pinochet dictatorship sang the Ninth at torture prisons, where men inside took hope when they heard their voices.
  • As the Berlin Wall came down in December 1989, it collapsed to the sound of Leonard Bernstein conducting Beethoven’s Ninth as an “Ode To Freedom.”
  • In Japan each December, the Ninth is performed hundreds of times, often with 10,000 people in the chorus. Following the Ninth gives us insight into the heightened importance of this massive communal Ninth, known as “Daiku,” in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

Directed and produced by Kerry Candaele—who previously produced Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices, Iraq for Sale, and the documentary A League of Their Own—Following the Ninth traces these stories, intertwining them with the history of the Ninth itself to create a moving ode to hope, freedom, and the power of art.


  • World Premiere - Lincoln Center, NY
  • U.S. Theatrical Release
  • Newport Beach Film Festival
  • Singapore International Film Festival
  • Hundreds of grass-roots screening events across the U.S.


“This energetic film explores what the “Ode to Joy” and indeed the entire symphony has recently meant to women protesting torture in Santiago during Chile’s Pinochet dictatorship, students demonstrating for rights in Beijing’s Tianamen Square, Germans celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Japanese people expressing sympathy and hope after the catastrophic 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Using archival film depicting sometimes brutal scenes of human and natural destruction along with testimony from people who were there (especially Chilean poet and musician Isabel Lipthay; Lene Ford, brought up in East Berlin and witness to the end of the division of her city; and Feng Congde, a Chinese student leader who installed loud speakers at Tianamen Square to broadcast the “Ode to Joy”) gives the film documentary verisimilitude. Commentary from conductors on the entire 9th Symphony as well as lengthy segments of each movement demonstrate how powerfully contemporary this early 19th-century work can be, speaking as it does to universal human experience.”  - Education Media Reviews Online, Reviewed by Bonnie Jo Dopp, Librarian Emerita, University of Maryland


"Thrilling, smartly assembled and gracefully paced" – The New York Times

“The film is beautiful and powerful…If millions could experience its affirming and incandescent message, we might turn around the destructive dynamics that are overwhelming the earth.” – Bill Moyers

"Each Anecdote builds upon the next to create that rarest of films: A documentary as ineffable and transformative in it's reach as it sets out to be." - Village Voice

"Following the Ninth is one more BRAVO for the iconic masterpiece. " - Chicago Sun-Times

"The reach of Beethoven's final great work extends way beyond the concert hall, as this stirring documentary attests." - Film Journal


Kerry Candaele has conducted workshops and speaking engagements with Following The Ninth at various universities and high schools across the country as well as Beethoven workshops with the symphonies and choral groups. In 2014 he was invited to speak at the TEDx Conference Purdue.  Also an author, the most recent of Kerry’s three books is Journeys With Beethoven: Following the Ninth and Beyond, co-authored with journalist Greg Mitchell.

Kerry producer credits include Following the Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven’s Final Symphony, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and Iraq For Sale for Brave New Films. He has also collaborated with his brother on the documentary, A League of Their Own, about their mother’s experience in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. This documentary was later turned into a blockbuster hit by Columbia Pictures with the same title starring Tom Hanks, Madonna, and Geena Davis.

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“Following the Ninth is a gorgeous, panoramic documentary that is interdisciplinary and global in scope. Kerry Candaele takes us on a peripatetic journey around the world to explore the ways in which Beethoven's Ninth Symphony means different things to different people in different places. This moving film is a powerful resource for talking about music, universalism, the Enlightenment, globalization, political and personal turmoil, all in the context of Beethoven's symphony, which embodied for his time and ours, a collective yearning for freedom and healing.” - Catherine Liu, Professor of Film and Media Studies, UC Irvine

“When listening to Beethoven’s Ninth it not only evokes passionate emotions but also thrusts you into a turbulent political discourse on freedom, human rights, and collective will. And Kerry Candaele’s elegant documentary trails key moments of this public debate that ensured all students in my class got quickly involved and engaged in a genuine and fervid discussion.” - Peter Höyng, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of German Studies, Emory College of Arts and Sciences

Following the Ninth is an inspiring film showing the power that music can bring to people; not only experientially, but intellectually, emotionally, and socially. The film is a celebration of a composer and his art; but it also a celebration of the free will of the people. The symphony allows that free will to be expressed even in the face of repression–the music plays on, and so shall our freedom, our togetherness, and our Joy.” – Jennifer Weinstein, Executive Director, Southern Vermont Arts Center

"Following the Ninthis a deeply moving, and inspiring achievement. It has always amazed me how suddenly and vividly a piece of music can overwhelm one with epiphanies, insights and inspirations, and Candaele’s beautifully composed film affects one in much the same way.” – Daniel Stewart, Music Director, Santa Cruz County Symphony

"Kerry Candaele’s Following The Ninth rings true for the music scholar and historian as he combines new and archival footage and expert commentary to document the wide social influence of Beethoven’s transcendent masterpiece. I strongly recommend that orchestras and presenters consider screening this inspiring film for their patrons.” – Dean Corey, Executive Director, Philharmonic Society of Orange County

“Kerry Candaele’s documentary “Following the Ninth” combines beautiful imaginary with a powerful message that resonates with students. Beethoven’s “Ode of Joy” has been sung or performed by people to protest dictatorship or call for unity across the world, from Chile and China to Germany. As part of our conference event “Music as Resistance to Genocide”, we screened the film with great success at the University of Southern California.” - Wolf Gruner, Professor of History and Founding Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research

“Following the Ninth had its German premier at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Screening the film was the perfect way to open the Academic Year: Following The Ninth is thoughtful and beautifully executed, and truly engaged a large audience of students and faculty who turned out for the screening and discussion.”
 - Professor Helmut K. Anheier, PhD - President and Professor of Sociology/ Academic Director, Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany

“Following The Ninth was screened to a full and enthusiastic house in Middlebury's concert hall on the opening night of the Language Schools Centennial celebration. Students, faculty, staff, and community members responded enthusiastically (and gave a standing ovation to director Kerry Candaele). This beautiful and moving film is most appropriate for students of music, history, global studies, languages (after all, music is a language) and of course, cinema.” - Elizabeth Karnes Keefe, Associate Dean of Middlebury Language Schools