Newswise — TROY, N.Y. — Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has become one of the most celebrated musical works. How has one musical work inspired so many? On Wednesday, February 28, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will present a film and panel discussion to consider how music can cross boundaries and also mean very different things to different people.  

The Ninth: Destiny of a Symphony by Pierre-Henry Salfati explores how the symphony’s universal message of joy and brotherhood has been reclaimed by so many contradictory movements and ideas, from romantics and humanists to anarchists, communists, and fascists. The film examines how music can reflect and refract diverse social currents and forces.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion among Rensselaer professors chaired by pianist and composer Michael Century, professor of new media and music. Panelists are political scientist Langdon Winner, the Thomas Phelan Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, and composer Nina Young, assistant professor of arts.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by Student Life and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Rensselaer. It begins at 4 p.m. in the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) Concert Hall.

Events like this one epitomize The New Polytechnic, a new paradigm for teaching, learning, and research at Rensselaer that uses advanced technologies to enable fresh collaborations across disciplines, sectors, and regions, in order to answer the global challenges of our day. The New Polytechnic is transformative in the global impact of research, in its innovative pedagogy, and in the lives of students at Rensselaer.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. For nearly 200 years, Rensselaer has been defining the scientific and technological advances of our world. Rensselaer faculty and alumni represent 86 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 17 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 8 members of the National Academy of Medicine, 8 members of the National Academy of Inventors, and 5 members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, as well as 6 National Medal of Technology winners, 5 National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With 7,000 students and nearly 100,000 living alumni, Rensselaer is addressing the global challenges facing the 21st century—to change lives, to advance society, and to change the world. To learn more, go to