“In Japan, it’s an end-of-year tradition to sing “Ode to Joy,” the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The song is so well-known in Japan that it’s known simply as daiku, literally “number nine.” In Osaka, a 10,000-person-strong “Number Nine Chorus” of amateur singers performs daiku every December, to thundering effect. While there are some professionals involved (the soloists and orchestra), the Number Nine Chorus is largely a community effort. And the sound of 10,000 singers, trained or untrained, is unbelievable.…The Beethoven craze began, strangely enough, during World War I, when German soldiers being held as prisoners in Japan staged the very first performance of number nine here.
The Japanese liked what they heard, and by the mid-20th century, number nine had become a holiday hit.…”