Keir Starmer picks EU anthem as song that 'sums up Labour Party' and invokes memories of Berlin Wall's collapse

24 November 2023, 12:41 | Updated: 24 November 2023, 15:33

Sir Keir Starmer played the flute, piano and violin as a child.
Sir Keir Starmer played the flute, piano and violin as a child. Picture: Classic FM

By Ana Truesdale

Sir Keir Starmer named Ode to Joy, part of which is the Anthem of Europe, as the piece of classical music which 'sums up Labour Party'.

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Appearing on Classic FM, Labour leader Keir Starmer picked Ode to Joy as the piece of classic music which best "sums up the Labour Party."

Sir Keir told Classic FM: “One of the pieces I’ve got is Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the choral Ode to Joy.

“You’ve got the orchestra, you’ve got the voices, you’ve got this big combination. This is very sort of Labour.

“You’re getting everybody, Beethoven’s getting everybody on to the stage for this.

“I talk about a national mission for the next Labour government. This is a sense of something. It has got a sense of destiny and is hugely optimistic.

“And so, for me, that’s been hardwired in me for a long, long time. So, I would go with that.

“There are many others that I could associate with the Labour Party, but that sense of moving forward to a better place is incredibly powerful.”

He added: "But for me, I was in my 20s when the Berlin Wall came down. I was 27. I was out of university. I’d just got my feet under the desk as a lawyer, had my whole life ahead of me.

"And the Berlin Wall came down. This was an incredible feeling of freedom, of change in my life. Things were going to be fundamentally different.

"And for me, this piece of music, because it was obviously used when the Wall came down, or shortly afterwards. There was a huge concert.

"And this was the sort of lead music of the Wall has come down, there's a brighter future that we are going confidently towards and so it meant something for the world.

"But to me, starting out on my journey, it brought those together in the most powerful way and I always loved it."

Keir Starmer speaks to Classic FM on 'Ode to Joy'

Part of the prelude of Ode to Joy has been made into the Anthem of Europe, which was adopted by the EU.

The anthem is played at official political and civil events, and represents the EU and its people.

Sir Keir has said saying there was no case for re-joining the EU and no case for the single market.

He has previously hinted he would seek a closer relationship with the bloc if he won power but has exercised caution in discussing these plans publicly.

Read more: Sir Keir Starmer says he is right to seek changes to Brexit deal but there's 'no case for rejoining the EU'

Read more: James O'Brien takes aim at uninformed 'idiots' criticising Keir Starmer for not wanting to diverge from EU rules

Sir Keir mentioned the second movement of Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto, the Emperor Concerto, as a piece he listens to after a difficult day.

“There is that beautiful bit about a third of the way in where it’s just the piano, totally on its own to start with, sort of rolling down the notes, and it’s absolutely phenomenal,” he said.