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Beethoven’s Bonn: A Musical Journey in the Hometown of the Composer

(CNN)— He is a tall musical genius, but his deafness has not prevented him from becoming one of the greatest composers in the world.

Ludwig van Beethoven (Ludwig van Beethoven) may be born 250 years ago, but despite his disability, his musical achievements are the real modern story.

With the 250th anniversary of his birth next month-he was baptized on December 17, 1770-his hometown Bonn is stepping up celebrations.

Beethoven was born on December 17, 1770, 250 years ago.

Beethoven was born on December 17, 1770, 250 years ago.

Hullton Archives/Hullton Archives/Getty Images

For Bonn, this is nothing new. This 2,000-year-old city was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990. Since 1844, the city has hosted an international classical music festival “Beethoven Festival” every year (despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert participated in the first commemorative event together with King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia and natural scientist Alexander von Humboldt, which was only 17 years after the death of the composer. While participating in the festival, they witnessed the unveiling of the Beethoven Monument, which has been standing on the beautiful central square Münsterplatz.

Pilgrimage site

Seventeen years after the composer's death, the Beethoven Monument on Münsterplatz was grandly unveiled.

Seventeen years after the composer’s death, the Beethoven Monument on Münsterplatz was grandly unveiled.

Andreas Lenz/Getty Images

But there is not only one statue. Bonn is determined to keep the memory of Beethoven and his works, and to find composers in the city and surrounding areas.

Beethoven’s birthplace was originally built around 1700 and survived the ups and downs. It is one of the few old houses left in Bonn. The small pink baroque facade is still located at Bonngasse20. Ludwig was born in one of the attic rooms, named after his Dutch grandfather, Ludwig van Beethoven, who was the music director of the Cologne Electoral Court-the highest position In the Holy Roman Empire.

He is the second of John’s seven children-court musician, singing and piano teacher-and Maria Magdalena. But only three of them-all boys-survived infancy.

The Beethoven family moved their house in 1774, but none of their other Bonn houses survived, making the birthplace a place of pilgrimage for music lovers.

It was turned into a museum in 1893 and was almost unscathed in the two world wars. During World War II, the assembly was evacuated, and the Bonn explosion in October 1944 caused only minor damage to the house.

The last renovation of the museum took place in 2017, and today-including the houses on both sides of the birthplace-it houses a permanent exhibition on the life of the person and his family and the largest collection of Beethoven memorabilia-from his property and music To the original painting and text-the world.

The adjacent building houses the Beethoven Archives, Library and Publishing House, as well as the award-winning chamber music hall.

But it is Bonngasse 20’s low ceiling, creaky stairs and wooden floor that convey the humble beginnings of one of the greatest music artists of all time.

“Kings Forest”

Beethoven Forest

Kottenforst offers an opportunity to escape from Bonn.


One of the places where Ludwig and his family might escape from the cramped surroundings of the city center is the trail of Kottenforst, a 4,000-hectare forest south of Bonn.

This is one of the oldest forests in the area, which existed before the time of Beethoven. Documents in 973 AD called it the “Kings Forest”, with criss-crossing footprints dating back to the 18th century, and was established by Cologne elector Clemens August, boss of Beethoven’s father.

August used Kottenforst as his personal hunting ground. A hunter’s hut built in 1740 is still preserved in the forest and used as a relay station for fresh horses for hunting. However, today, the Kotten Foster form has become part of the large Rhineland Nature Park. It is still the ideal place to visit “waldeinsamkeit” (essentially “forest loneliness”), which is an act of escaping the connection between forest and nature.

Beethoven topless

Beethoven Rheiner

Rheinaue Park is located by the Rhine.


As the largest city park in Bonn, Rheinaue on the Rhine is a modern version of Kottenforst-a place where locals can relax. In the time of Beethoven, this was an alluvial forest, but after the diversion of the river in the 18th and 19th centuries, the water of the river gradually decreased, and later it was completely drained and converted to agricultural use.

By 1949, Bonn was appointed the capital of West Germany. Despite the establishment of a new government office area on the northern edge of the Rheinaue, Bonn was still one of the city’s last natural spaces.

In order to avoid further development, Bonn chose Rheinaue as the location of the West German National Horticultural Exhibition in 1979.

The country’s largest landscaping project at the time transformed 160 hectares of land into a park, creating slowly rolling hills, dotted with flower beds, many different trees and thousands of meters of winding paths-none of them were fenced, so citizens could visit Wanted while admiring flowers and plants.

Today, this is the location of another Beethoven monument-this is a granite sculpture created by Peter Breuer in 1938. Moved here in 1995, it shows a clumsy young Ludwig bare chest, leaning against a small lake in the park.

The eighth miracle

It is said that Beethoven likes to walk in the mountains of Siebengebirge.

It is said that Beethoven likes to walk in the mountains of Siebengebirge.

Henty Kaiser/Getty Images

The wooded hills of Siebengebirge rising on the east bank of the Rhine opposite Bonn are familiar sights to Beethoven.

At an altitude of 460 meters (over 1,500 feet), Ölberg is the highest attraction. Despite the name, it is actually an area with more than 40 mountains-a long extinct volcano, believed to be about 20 million years old.

However, this name tends to take the lead from local legends. Legend has it that seven giants arrived to widen the Rhine and then put their shovels on the ground because they rested near Königswinter, 8 miles south of Bonn. The earth that fell from the tool became Siebengebirge.

For a long time, artists and nature lovers have adored the area. The 18th century naturalist Alexander von Humboldt was so attracted by these “small-scale alpine” forest tops and rugged rocks that they described them as “the eighth wonder of the world.”

The stone ridges were mined by churches and castles built by the Celts, Romans, and medieval Germans. Today, most of these quarries have grown, and in 1958 the area was designated as the Siebengebirge, the first natural park in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Back to Beethoven. Just as the locals told the French composer Hector Berlioz (Hector Berlioz) to attend the Beethoven Festival for the first time in 1845, the composer was attracted by Siebengebirge, so he would travel across the Rhine The river walks and dreams here.

Today, there is a walking trail dedicated to composers, including Drachenfels or Dragon’s Rock.

This rocky rock is decorated with the romantic remains of a 12th-century castle. It has long been closely related to mythology and inspired artists including Lord Byron, Heinrich Heine and Beethoven. writer. From here, you can enjoy the fabulous hills and panoramic views of the Eifel and Westwald mountains.

Roots of the Rhineland

The Ehrenbreitstein fortress overlooks the birthplace of Beethoven’s mother.

The Ehrenbreitstein Fortress overlooks the birthplace of Beethoven’s mother.

De Agostini Editorial/Getty Images

The southern part of Bonn and Siebengebirge is a suitable last stop to explore the roots of Beethoven’s Rhineland. His mother was born in Koblenz, one hour southeast of Bonn.

Koblenz is the third largest city in the region where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet. It has a history of 2000 years.

Maria Magdalena Keverich (Maria Magdalena Keverich) was born in 1746 in Ehrenbreitstein, the oldest part of the city.

It is located at the foot of the high cliff of the same name, and on the top of the high cliff is a fortress. There has been one here since Roman times, although the Prussian in 1828 can be seen today.

The most attractive place in Koblenz is the Deutsches Eck (German Corner), which is an open headland overlooking the confluence of two rivers. It is the seat of the statue of Emperor Wilhelm I, the so-called “founder of the German Empire” on horseback. It was placed there in 1897 and was dismantled after World War II, but was reinstalled in 1993 and recommitted to German unification.

Maria Keverich certainly has more humble ancestry. She was born in Anna Klara and the chef Johann Heinrich Keverich (Johann Heinrich Keverich) of the nearby Philipsburg Castle.

She got married when she was young, was widowed at the age of 18, and met her second husband through the court violinist Johann Konrad Rovantini (Johann Konrad Rovantini). She and Johann van Beethoven were married in 1767, and Maria died of tuberculosis at the age of 40.

Her birthplace is one of the oldest buildings in Koblenz, known as the Beethoven Mother House Museum, dedicated to commemorating this strong woman and of course her gifted son.

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