Beethoven’s Bonn: A musical tour of the composer’s residence metropolis

(CNN) – He is a professional musician who did not allow his deafness to prevent him from becoming one of the most imaginative composers in the world.

Ludwig van Beethoven was probably born 250 years ago, but his story of accomplishment in spite of his disability seems like a modern story.

And I remember his 250th birthday next month – he was baptized December 17, 1770 – back home in Bonn preparing to celebrate.

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

Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

It’s not new to Bonn. The city – which has a 2,000-year history and was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 – has hosted the annual Beethovenfest, an international festival of classical music, since 1844 (although this year’s release was canceled due to the 19th Covid-Plague.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were among the guests who released it – which was only 17 years after the songwriter died – along with Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. Continuing to attend the festival, he witnessed the unveiling of the Beethoven Monument, located in the center of Münsterplatz, to this day.

A place of worship

The Beethoven Monument to Muensterplatz was unveiled 17 years after the composer's death.

The Beethoven Monument to Muensterplatz was unveiled 17 years after the composer’s death.

Photos by Andreas Rentz / Getty

There is more to it than just an image. Bonn is determined to remember Beethoven and his work, and the singer’s remnants can be found around the city and surrounding areas.

The Beethoven birthplace, built in the early 18th century, has survived a period of desolation and is one of Bonn’s oldest surviving buildings. A small house with a pink ornament still exists in Bonngasse 20. Ludwig was born in an upstairs room, named after his Dutch grandmother Ludwig van Beethoven, who was the music director at the Elector Court of Cologne – one of the top in Holy Roman Empire.

She was the second of Johann’s seven children – a lawyer, and a piano teacher – and Mary Magdalena. But only three of them – all the boys – survived.

The Beethovens relocated in 1774, but not all of their homes in Bonn survived, making the birthplace a place of prayer for music lovers.

It became a museum in 1893, and came into both world wars uninterrupted. During World War II, the convention was canceled, and a bomb blast in Bonn in October 1944 damaged the building.

The museum was renamed the last of its kind in 2017, and today – all around the house of the birthplace, too – it has a living portrait of the man and his family, as well as a huge series of Beethoven memorials – from his artifacts and songs to paintings. originals and letters – in the world.

Neighboring buildings include Beethoven’s former museum, library and printery, as well as an award-winning music hall.

But it is the low stairs, the walking steps and the wooden floor of the Bonngasse 20 that give an idea of ​​the humble beginnings of one of the greatest artists of all time.

‘King of the jungle’

forest of beethoven

Kottenforst offers flight to Bonn.


One of the places Ludwig and his family could have fled to the densely populated downtown area was Kottenforst, a 4,000-hectare forest south of Bonn.

This is one of the oldest forests in the region and existed before Beethoven’s. A document dated 973 CE calls it the “royal forest”, and the routes through it date back to the 18th century, established by Clemens August, Cologne’s Chosen One and Beethoven’s patriarch.

Augustes used Kottenforst as its hunting ground and in the forest there is also a hunting lodge from 1740 which has been used as a reception area for new hunting horses. Today, however, the Kottenforst species are part of the larger Rhineland Nature Park. It is still a good place to visit the “waldeinsamkeit” – especially “to be alone in the forest” – fleeing into the wild to connect with nature.

Beethoven sitting on the chest

beethoven Rheinaue

Rheinaue Park is located on the Rhine River.


As the largest park in the city of Bonn, Rheinaue, on the Rhine, is the modern Kottenforst brand – somewhere for people to enjoy. In Beethoven’s time, it was a permanent forest, but it declined when the river was restored in the 18th and 19th centuries, and later it was completely emptied and given agricultural activities.

By 1949, when Bonn was named the capital of West Germany, he was one of the city’s finalists, even in a new government quarter northeast of Rheinaue.

To save development, Bonn chose Rheinaue as the venue for West Germany at the 1979 National Horticultural Show.

The largest project at the time saw 160 hectares transformed into a park, creating rolling hills with flower beds, treetured trees and miles of winding roads – all without fences so that citizens could see flowers and plants the way they wanted.

Today, it is home to another Beethoven monument – this is a 1938 granite statue by Peter Breuer. Relocated here in 1995, it shows young Ludwig leaning against his chest, overlooking the small lake park.

The eighth wonder

Beethoven says he enjoys walking in the Siebengebirge mountains.

Beethoven says he enjoys walking in the Siebengebirge mountains.

Henning Kaiser collaboration / photo via Getty Photos

The tree-lined Siebengebirge, or “Seven Mountains,” which rise to the east coast of the Rhine across Bonn would have been a well-known sight to Beethoven.

At an altitude of 460 meters (over 1,500) Ölberg is the highest point. Despite the name, it actually covers an area of ​​more than 40 mountains – the highest in the mountains, which are thought to be about 20 million years old.

However, the name tends to lead from the local legend. The story goes that seven giants came across the Rhine, then punched the diggers on the ground as they rested near Königswinter, 8 miles south of Bonn. The land damaged by the weapons became Siebengebirge.

Artists and nature lovers have long respected the site. Eighteenth-century naturalist Alexander von Humboldt was so obsessed with high mountains and rocky outcrops of “little mountains” that he described them as “the eighth wonder in the world.”

The rocky hills were dug by Celts, Romans and ancient Germans to build churches and palaces. Today, many of these rocks have grown and in 1958 the site was renamed Naturpark Siebengebirge, the first park in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Back to Beethoven. The songwriter took Siebengebirge with him so that he could cross the Rhine to travel and dream here, as locals told French composer Hector Berlioz who visited the first Beethovenfest in 1845.

Today there is a walking tour written by the author, featuring Drachenfels, or Rock’s Dragon.

This stone carving the love ruins of a 12-year-old house was interspersed with legends, and inspired artists and writers including Lord Byron and Heinrich Heine, as well as Beethoven. From here, there is a spectacular view of the rugged mountains visible across the Eifel and Westerwald mountains.

Rhineland roots

The Ehrenbreitstein Palace focuses on the birthplace of Beethoven's mother.

The Ehrenbreitstein Palace focuses on the birthplace of Beethoven’s mother.

De Agostini / Getty Images

South of Bonn and Siebengebirge is the ideal place to stop research on Beethoven’s Rhineland roots. His mother was born in Koblenz, an hour southeast of Bonn.

The third largest city in the region, where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet, Koblenz also has a 2,000-year history.

Maria Magdalena Keverich, as she was then, was born in 1746 in Ehrenbreitstein, the oldest part of the city.

It sits at the foot of the same name, which has a wall. There has been someone here since Roman times, even one who can be seen today by the Prussian, since 1828.

Koblenz’s main architecture is the Deutsches Eck, or German Kona – an open source view where the two rivers merge. It is the home of a statue of Emperor William I., dubbed the “founder of the German Empire”, on horseback. Placed there in 1897, it was abolished after World War II but was re-established in 1993 and resigned to include Germany.

Maria Keverich, of course, had a very humble source. She was born to Anna Klara and Johann Heinrich Keverich, a senior chef at Philippsburg Castle nearby.

She was married at a young age, was a widow at the age of 18, and met her second husband through court counsel Johann Konrad Rovantini, who was married to her siblings. She and Johann van Beethoven were married in 1767, and Maria died at the age of 40, in Bonn, of tuberculosis.

Her birthplace – one of the oldest in Koblenz – is known as the Museum of Mother Beethoven House and she is dedicated to the life of this powerful mother, as well as her intelligent child.

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