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Germany celebrates 250-year-old 'pop star' Beethoven with 700 events


Agence France-Presse

 /  Wed, December 18, 2019  /  10:03 am
Germany celebrates 250-year-old 'pop star' Beethoven with 700 events

A lettering promoting the Beethoven-Year dedicated to German composer Ludwig van Beethoven is seen in his native city of Bonn, western Germany, on December 13, 2019. (AFP/Ina Fassbender)

Germany is going all out for the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven's birth with more than 700 events, including homages by Hollywood actor Christoph Waltz and electronic outfit Kraftwerk.

A recent preview of the renovated Beethoven House Museum in his native city Bonn offered a glimpse of the festivities planned ahead of the big day next year.

Here are the main celebrations for a man described by German news weekly Der Spiegel as a "a 250-year-old pop star":

Dec. 16: Beethoven's home reopened to the public as a museum after extensive renovation, on the day most widely believed to be his birthday. The museum includes an exhibition with scores and instruments as well as notebooks he used to communicate after going deaf in 1801 – 26 years before his death. The former West German capital is hoping for a big tourism boost from the year of festivities.

Feb. 1: Beethoven's only opera Fidelio is performed at the State Opera in Vienna, where the composer lived at the beginning of the 19th century. The German-Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who works mainly in the United States, will also stage Fidelio from March 16 at the city's Theater an der Wien - where the opera was first performed in 1805.

Read also: AI puts final notes on Beethoven's Tenth Symphony

April 25 and 26: Berlin hosts a 24-hour "Beethoven Marathon" by the city's Philharmonic orchestra.

April 28: Back in Bonn, a hypothetical version of Beethoven's unfinished "Tenth Symphony" completed by artificial intelligence is to be performed.

May 16: Kraftwerk gives an open-air concert in Bonn in honor of Beethoven. The group will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020.

Dec. 17: The Beethoven year closes with a concert in the parliament building in Bonn, underlining the political significance of a composer whose "Ode To Joy" from his "Ninth Symphony" became the EU's anthem.

So important is the anniversary that the need to prepare for it was written into a 2013 coalition agreement between German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats. The deal said preparations were a "national duty".