23 November 2020

Beethoven’s 250th Birthday

Many planned events delayed, cancelled; go visit his homes instead

LUDWIG VAN Beethoven was supposed to have quite the 250th birthday party in 2020. Internationally, major events were scheduled as far from his hometown as Japan. Marin Alsop, music director of the symphony orchestras in Baltimore and Sao Paulo, had intended to conduct his Ninth Symphony in New Zealand, the United States, Brazil, England, Austria, Australia and South Africa. In Bonn, Germany, where Beethoven was born (baptized 17 December 1770), a year-long programme of 300 concerts, exhibitions, dance and theatre performances was planned. Vienna, where the composer spent most of his career, had a similarly impressive calendar set, including three staged versions of his opera Fidelio and special shows at the National Library, Leopold Museum and House of Music.

Most of what had been promised was cancelled or put online once the effects of covid-19 began to be felt in March 2020. Ms. Alsop only got in the Brazil concert. Both Bonn and Vienna, but Bonn in particular, which is not deep in marquee history to draw on, are hoping to restore at least some of their in-person offerings during an extension of the birthday bash until September 2021. Dates remain largely written in pencil, though, to be confirmed later.

Travellers to either city who are keen on Beethoven may be better off planning their itineraries around more permanent markers. Places where Beethoven lived, for example.

In Bonn, the house where Beethoven was born is now a museum, the Beethoven-Haus ( It has, its website says, the “largest and most diverse Beethoven collection in the world,” with manuscripts, letters, pictures, musical instruments (including the composer’s last grand piano) “and everyday items used by Beethoven.” It opened an enlarged permanent exhibition space in December 2019, but has been been forced to close during the pandemic. It will reopen 11 January 2021.

Beethoven lived in more than 60 different places during his 35 years in Vienna. Some are now museums, including the Beethoven Pasqualatihaus (, where he resided, off and on, for eight years in apartments on the fourth floor. Four of his symphonies and the opera Fidelio were composed here. Another residence is now the Beethoven Museum (, where he lived while trying to cure his growing deafness at the nearby, mineral-rich springs. The Beethoven Museum reopened 8 December 2020, but a date for the Beethoven Pasqualatihaus has not been announced.



For more information on 2021 Beethoven events in Bonn visit the Beethoven Anniversary Society website at