Video: EU Parliament Members Turn Backs on Beethoven's Ninth in Protest

Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - 06:00 PM

Eurosceptics members of Parliament turn their back to the assembly during the opening ceremony of the European Parliament session on July 1, 2014 in Strasbourg, eastern France. Eurosceptics members of Parliament turn their back to the assembly during the opening ceremony of the European Parliament session. (AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN)

During the ceremonial opening of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Tuesday, lawmakers from Britain's Euroskeptic, anti-immigration UK Independence Party turned their backs on the assembly while a local orchestra performed the European anthem, the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

The Associated Press describes the new Parliament as "more raucous, more anti-immigration and more skeptical" with how the EU is run. Some members want tough immigration curbs, others seek to dismantle the euro currency or want to see their country leave the union altogether. Voters in May handed almost one in three seats to parties seeking to slash its powers.

The orchestra in the video, the Strasbourg Philharmonic, continues to perform, undeterred by the protest (a full video is posted on the European Commission website). But another MEP, Liberal Democrat Catherine Bearder, later tweeted, "Shocking disrespect from UKIP and others to turn back on orchestra at opening ceremony."

Parliament’s 751 lawmakers have an important role in shaping EU policies on issues ranging from financial regulation to agriculture subsidies.

In a very different setting, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra played Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on Saturday in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.


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Comments [12]

Carol Kennicott

Would everyone feel better if they had turned their backs on Cow Cow Boogie?

Jul. 22 2014 10:35 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau

The E.U. was originally rejected by France, Netherlands, Ireland and the U.K. The treaty was tweeked and then was passed. Wonder what trickery was used. The duly elected president of the Ukraine was overthrown by instigations started by EU and our very own CIA. He was overthrown because he was pro-Russian and not in favor of the EU. Our very own president George W. was in favor of a North American version with something called the amero(?)as common currency.

Jul. 04 2014 07:53 AM
Patrick from Nassau County

Considering that it is not the EU that is keeping Britain in the EU but Britain herself, this act was childish, churlish and meaningless. Be in it and change it from within or leave. Britain has always been one foot in, one foot out. Time for in for a penny in for a pound or be done with it. As for anti-immigration. Ha! They should discuss that one with their forefathers.

Jul. 03 2014 01:43 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Thank you Claudel. If the great Ludwig were alive, the eu would have tried to sanction him and other great classical composers as being too Christian. Who the hell is this bunch in Brussels trying to interfere with tradition and culture. Our identity is who we are. Yes, there has been bad but also a great deal of good. The Russian, Italian soul, etc. Gosh, Verdi was too Italian, Puccini too Florentine, Wagner, too German. etc.etc.etc. Because of EU trade rules, Germany imported Mozzarella into Italy that turned blue, etc.etc.etc. Merkel wants to allow Turkey into the EU. Why. They are not Europe, only a small portion is. Why? So that they can start burning churches? A pox on these elites.

Jul. 03 2014 07:22 AM
Bernie from UWS

I think Claudel has been drinking the Tea Party kool-aid. My take is this: the EU, for all its flaws, is still a great benefit to a more harmonious and unified Europe. If you're elected to serve as an MEP, it's your duty to work within the system to improve it, not stage such a childish protest on your first public day on the job.

Jul. 03 2014 06:38 AM

@ claudel: "... Tribal-socialist-would-be-Clintonoid-and-Obamanoid Masonic lodge ..."

How do you really feel about it?


Jul. 03 2014 01:18 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Whatever one says or does nowadays is taken as if much thought and conscience deliberating was involved. Too much of what has to be done is simply avoided or rebuked. Civilization requires a sense of common good and search for ways to improve the common lot. Greed accomplishes distrust, even hatred, makes cooperation difficult if not impossible.

Jul. 02 2014 07:18 PM

Sisko24's comment shows him to be a typical New Yorker; in other words, someone for whom hypocrisy is as congenial a medium as water is for a duck. He believes in so-called democracy when its results please him; when it doesn't, he plays the Establishment's one and only trump card: "they're all Nazis!!" Should the day ever come when the cards fall into the hands of a dealer who announces "Five-card stud; no trumps, no wild cards," he will be as tongue-tied as he's now unimaginative and predictable.

The UKIP delegates were elected by ordinary Joes and Janes and the odd Rachman and Vijaya of England and Scotland to the Tribal-socialist-would-be-Clintonoid-and-Obamanoid Masonic lodge that masquerades as the European Parliament. Having now been duly seated, they are merely doing what Democratic (and now Republican) politicians in the USA have done for a century and more: actively working at destroying the institution they were elected to be members of. The difference is that in the European case, the elected officials are actually representing the people who elected them, not taking massive payoffs to serve an international cabal of hyperrich bankers, layabouts, and media-owning monsters who are working actively to pervert and destroy a Western society they hate passionately, even though that society and its people have made them rich and powerful beyond human imagining.

Perhaps Sisko24 has a nephew who looks forward to being an oligarch--or maybe just someone who lives off an oligarch's discards. Good luck to him. He and S24 will have to acquire a few more gray cells, however, before he'll have what it takes to recall the secret handshake needed to get through the lodge door.

Finally, leave it to QXR and the US media Establishment to distort the point of the very tame EP protest. What was being dissed was not Beethoven or music or even the musicians (all saintly union members, no doubt); rather, it was the institution, along with the power bloc that constructed and maintains that institution, that pretends to admire a composer while working at permanently laying waste any society that could ever have recognized him as one of its own children. Can there be any doubt that were Beethoven living now, he'd long since have been judged insufficiently diverse for a respectable society to tolerate?

Jul. 02 2014 05:23 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Poor form. Very rude. I am not too enthused about the EU. These are the folks that tell the French and Italians how to make cheese,etc. try to challenge the culture of a nation and destroy the identity of a people. The EU only helps the ruling class and not the average citizen. Where is the help Italy needs to deal with the thousands landing on the shores of Sicily. Read on an Italian web site that there was no room to bury some of the refugees. The EU was too busy trying to get Crucifixes out of the schools.

Jul. 02 2014 01:05 PM
Joan from Netherlands

Were this not so rude, it would be laughable. By turning their backs on Beethoven and the orchestra, these members stand facing their parliamentary colleagues, many of whom are the very representatives to whom they are supposedly opposed.

Jul. 02 2014 11:33 AM

The anti-EU MEPs are quite a bunch. They campaigned to get elected to the European Parliament so they can shut it down. A stunt such as turning their backs on the Beethoven Ninth is symbolic but ultimately sends a message that they aren't completely serious about what they are about. They're more likely to be sound and fury achieving little substantive. The people who will achieve more are the more mainstream European 'right' and 'left' parties who will find enough common ground to make change and move Europe forward in a significant way.

Besides, some of the anti-EU members would probably prefer to stand for the 'Horst Wessel' song rather than the Beethoven.

Jul. 02 2014 11:21 AM
Linda from New York City

A display of utter stupidity!! There are other ways to get one's message across, rather than make a public spectacle of one's political party. Cheapens the message.

Jul. 02 2014 11:02 AM

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