The legacy of Ludwig van Beethoven, who saw the light of day in Bonn in 1770, is highly respected and honored in Bonn. His music is present everywhere, connecting Bonn with music lovers around the world.
December 2020 marked the 250th anniversary of his birthday. The special anniversary is celebrated in Bonn as well as in the region in North Rhine-Westphalia, throughout Germany and in the whole world. The anniversary year began on December 16, 2019 and was intended to end on December 17, 2020. However, the celebrations, currently interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, will now continue until September 2021.
The non-profit Beethoven Jubiläums Gesellschaft mbH was founded to coordinate the program. Under the umbrella brand BTHVN 2020, its aim is to promote and communicate the Beethoven Jubilee as an event of national and international significance with a broad participation of all population groups and many guests from Germany and abroad.
With his immortal music, Beethoven is still considered a radical artist and creative visionary today. The utopias of freedom and fraternity, for which he passionately advocated, are of great topicality. The anniversary offers an opportunity to take a new approach to Beethoven's personality, work and influence.
City marketing campaign
For its part, the Federal City of Bonn has launched a city marketing campaign to mark the Beethoven anniversary. „Bonn ist Beethoven. Weil...“ („Bonn is Beethoven. Because ...“) is the motto, and the respective additions are then aimed at the numerous facets that make up Bonn, e.g. “Bonn ist Beethoven. Weil unsere Vielfalt Wissen schafft“ ("Bonn is Beethoven. Because our diversity creates knowledge!"). Or: „Bonn ist Beethoven. Weil hier Zukunft komponiert wird“ („Bonn is Beethoven. Because the future is being composed here“). The world-famous name of Beethoven is associated with Bonn. At the same time, the city’s great diversity is made visible. Beethoven’s thoughts and ideas form the basis of the campaign: emancipation, innovation and internationality.
Beethoven-Orchester (Beethoven Orchestra Bonn)
Of course, the city's orchestra bears the name of the most famous son: The Bonn Beethoven Orchestra, founded in 1907, is the musical ambassador of the city of Bonn with its concerts in Germany and abroad as well as CD recordings and is also the orchestra of the Bonn Opera House. The orchestra performs important artistic functions at Beethoven festivals and has been awarded several international prizes.
Beethoven Orchestra Bonn
Since 1999 Bonn has celebrated its Beethovenfest every year. World-famous interpreters and young, highly talented musicians are then guests in Bonn. The Beethovenfest Bonn can look back on an eventful history. Its origins go back to the three-day music festival of Franz Liszt, which was held in 1845 on the occasion of the inauguration of the Beethoven Monument on Bonn's Münsterplatz on the occasion of the composer's 75th birthday. In order to continue to cultivate Beethoven's work, chamber music festivals have been held annually since 1889, initiated by the Beethoven-Haus Association. Since 1927, these were popular Beethoven festivals, which were organized by the city of Bonn every two years starting in 1959.
Beethoven-Haus (Beethoven House)
Visitors encounter Ludwig van Beethoven in many places in the cityscape as well. The Beethoven House, a landmark of Bonn, is supported by the Beethoven House Association, founded in 1889, and houses the museum in Beethoven's birthplace, the Beethoven Archive and the Chamber Music Hall. The permanent exhibition, newly created for the Beethoven Year 2020, offers informative and emotional access to over 200 original exhibits - portraits, original manuscripts, instruments and everyday objects - from the association's world-famous collections. Regular performances on historical keyboard instruments can be experienced in the new music room, and original manuscripts of important works are permanently displayed in a treasure chamber. Changing thematic exhibitions deepen different perspectives on Beethoven.
In the Digital Archive, visitors on site, but also from all over the world, can virtually browse the collections, view objects that are not on display in the museum, and call up further information. The Beethoven Archive with its publishing house and special library, founded in 1927 on the 100th anniversary of Beethoven's death as a scientific research institute, is the central documentation center for Beethoven's life, work and intellectual environment. The Chamber Music Hall, inaugurated in 1989, not only has excellent acoustics, it is also considered one of the most beautiful modern concert halls in Europe. Among other things, the Beethoven Week has been held there annually since 2015. The festival continues the tradition of the famous chamber music festivals founded by Joseph Joachim and draws a bow from Beethoven's chamber music to the music of our time.
Inaugurated on September 8, 1959, the Beethovenhalle is the city's concert and event hall. It was extended in 1996/97. It is the home of the Beethoven Orchestra, with international orchestras and artists of world renown giving guest performances here. Important events are the annual Beethoven Festivals, but also the major congresses. The largest of the four meeting rooms can accommodate 2,000 people. Today's Beethovenhalle is the third of this name in Bonn.
The first one was built as a wooden building in 1845 at the instigation of Franz Liszt for the first Beethoven Festival, but had to be torn down again due to fire hazard. The second hall, also built as a wooden construction in 1870 on the occasion of the second Beethovenfest for the 100th birthday of the composer, burned down completely on October 18, 1944, during the largest bombing attack on the city. On April 7, 2016, the Council decided to restore and modernize the Beethovenhalle in accordance with the preservation order, which has been in progress since the beginning of 2017.
Monuments and memorials
The Beethoven Monument on the Münsterplatz was unveiled in August 1845 to commemorate Beethoven's 75th birthday on the occasion of the first Beethovenfest. The Dresden sculptor Ernst Hähnel had won the competition for the bronze statue, which was announced in 1840. The figure's posture and symbols characterize the „inspired tone-artist“, who, with his eyes turned upwards, receives a creative thought to record it with his stylus in the music book.
Ludwig van Beethoven's mother, the Rhinelander Maria Magdalena van Beethoven, born Keverich, found her final resting place in the Old Cemetery in 1787. A simple stone slab on the grave, which was only rediscovered in 1932, commemorates her and her great son, whose words can be read on it: „She was such a good and kind mother to me, my best friend“.
The concrete sculpture „Beethon“ by the Düsseldorf artist Professor Klaus Kammerichs (in front of the Beethovenhalle) has become a modern landmark of the Beethoven city of Bonn. Since spring 2014 the sculpture „Homage to Beethoven“ by Markus Lüpertz has been standing in the Stadtgarten.
Telekom Beethoven Competition Bonn
In 2005, Deutsche Telekom first announced the international Beethoven piano competition „Telekom Beethoven Competition Bonn“, which has been held every two years since then to give young musicians the opportunity to launch an international career.
Together with several sponsors from the Bonn cultural scene and private industry, the City of Bonn has installed the Beethoven Tour. This tour leads to stations where the musical genius lived and worked. On the occasion of Beethoven's anniversary in 2020, the Beethoven Anniversary Society has revised and expanded the Beethoven Tour. With the help of concise multimedia elements at a total of 22 different stations in Bonn and the Rhein-Sieg-Kreis, visitors, but also the people of Bonn and the region, will become aware of Beethoven in a new way.
The Beethoven Tour was recognized in 2020 by the Art Directors Club Germany as well as with the international Red Dot Award. The Art Directors Club Germany is an independent association based in Berlin and is dedicated to identifying and promoting outstanding creative communication. The Red Dot Award is an international design competition for product design, communication design and design concepts.