Digital Archives

The Digital Archives contain the unique music manuscripts, first editions, letters and pictures from the museum's and library's collections of the Beethoven-Haus.

Through the work catalogue and by linking more than 6,300 documents on 39,800 coloured scans of high quality, 1,600 audio files (music examples, audio letters) and 7,700 text files, Beethoven's thinking, life and work become tangible and can be experienced in a visual and audible way. Portraits and topographical depictions show the composer and the world he lived in.


Ludwig van Beethoven's work comprises 722 larger and smaller compositions. They are registered as 138 works and groups of works with an opus number (op.) and 228 pieces without an opus number (WoO). There are to be added 27 unfinished works (Unv) as well as here not registered plans of operas and oratorios, sketches and studies.

The systematic catalogue raisonné leads to a "work homepage" for each work which features explanations and listening samples as well as important documents related to the pieces and now owned by the Beethoven-Haus: manuscripts from Beethoven (autographs), copies by professional copyists and drafts, first publications as well as work related letters and pictures. For each document, visitors can read and listen to scientific and interesting information.

For the retrieval of works by other composers see Search and Catalogues.



More than 700 of the 1770 known private and business letters from Beethoven belong to the collection of the Beethoven-Haus. The original documents featured as part of the Digital Archives are accompanied by a table of contents and a description of the source.

In addition, 335 letters are presented in an audio format. When choosing which letters should be turned into audioletters, criteria such as content and recipients were considered. Letters to publishers were given priority, followed by letters to friends and patrons, family members, colleagues, techers, civil servants and physicians. These letters provide a more personal insight into Beethoven's life as a person, artist and businessman.
Subdivision of Beethoven's correspondence in the digital archive...

Besides the correspondence between other people, there are other text documents such as files and certificates, receipts, catalogues, album sheets and so on, which are used for researching Beethoven's life.



Many depictions focusing on Ludwig van Beethoven's person and his artistic work were already created during the 19th century. Out of this abundance of objects, the Beethoven-Haus owns numerous examples.

Pictures and paintings of Beethoven are the largest group. The authentic Beethoven depictions includes portraits that were painted during Beethoven's lifetime. Even though some artists drew their paintings from memory after meeting the composer, Beethoven mostly sat as a model for the painters.

Most of the Beethoven portraits were created after 1827. They give evidence of the myth around the composer and his continuing charisma. The paintings from Beethoven's lifetime are of a particular biographical value.

Depictions of family members, contemporaries and friends of the composer as well as the locations where he lived or stayed at temporarily, illustrate Beethoven's environment.

Coins and medals were embossed to honour the composer. And his face is featured on a number of stamps, but access is not possible here.

Objects owned by Beethoven as well as relics and historical music instruments fall into a particular category.



Choose your Beethoven-subject to get to know the Digital Archives!

Famous works by Beethoven:

Beethoven in his correspondence:

Sounding autographs:
Listen to Beethoven's music and follow the notes in the original manuscripts.

Piano sonatas:

Other piano works:
Chamber music:
Orchestral music:
Vocal music:

Beethoven in the arts:
The genuine portraits and favourite subjects.

Exhibits and other objects:

Favourite items from the museum:


The glossary explains specialist musical and iconographical terms, which occur in texts of the Digital Archives.


How to order

Reproductions and terms of use

1. On the website of the Beethoven-Haus users from all over the world may access the institution's digitalised inventory free of charge for non-commercial purposes only. When using digitised media, the Beethoven-Haus must be indicated as owner in the following way: "Beethoven-Haus Bonn" and/or "Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung H.C. Bodmer". The permanent link to the digitised item, referred to in German as "Link auf diese Seite" or "Permalink", must also be indicated.

2. Scans, printouts and copies for non-commercial use can be ordered with costs from the library of the Beethoven-Haus:
Digitised media and printouts that a user has obtained by ordering may not be used as a master for printing, be reproduced, posted on the Internet or transferred to third parties.

3. Of each publication for which the ordered material served as a working basis, the customer agrees to send an author copy free of charge to the following address:
Beethoven-Haus Bonn
Bonngasse 24-26
53111 Bonn

4. Prices and terms of delivery
  • Digitised inventory:
    The price for a file (image) with high resolution (600 respectively 400 dpi) is Euro 2.

  • Non-digitised inventory:
    The price for a file (image) with medium resolution (150 dpi, black-and-white) is Cent 50. 
    The price for a file (image) with a resolution of 300 dpi is Euro 1. 
For each order a one-time processing fee of Euro 10 is charged.

The stated prices are final prices, including the legal VAT, plus charges for postage and packaging.

Payment is due after receipt of the order confirmation. Once the payment has been received, the order will be shipped to the customer.

5. The terms of use for business or commercial purposes as well as for other purposes implying re-publication are stipulated by the photographic service (Bildstelle) of the Beethoven-Haus and can be obtained from:
Phone: +49 228-98175-38
Among these purposes is in particular the use of digitised items as a master for printed publications, as a PDF file, app, eBook for download and to integrate and display them in electronic disks and paid offers on websites that are intended primarily for business or commercial use.
The corresponding fees vary depending on purpose and are in line with the typical charges for using photographs and images as determined by the German Mittelstandsgemeinschaft Foto-Marketing. The fee includes the charges for the ordered file.


The items of the Beethoven-Haus’s library and museum collections are being digitised continuously and made available for free in the Digital Archive and the library catalogues. The wish to transfer the analogue documents to a digital medium with the utmost colour fidelity is due to the demand of capturing the original document's content, impression and aura. Only an accurate reproduction of even the outer appearance up to showing the paper's structure guarantees that the digital copy has the same attraction and informational depth as the original document. The scan should also be usable for the production of facsimiles and withstand further ways of usage and printing techniques.

So far, two projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) have been carried out. The first one was also part of the project "The digital Beethoven-Haus" and was further funded by means in relation to the Berlin/Bonn Act.

In 2001, 26,000 pages of music manuscripts, letters, first editions, pictures and objects were digitised with the help of service providers SRZ from Berlin, eps from Bonn and the photographers Weidner/Danetzki from Rheinbreitbach. High-quality image scans (48 bit, RGB, ICC profile) on a scanner by the Cruse company from Rheinbach were used to create digital master TIF data. These data constitute the 4.3 TB large basis for specific applications.

In 2010, more music prints, manuscripts, pictures and music instruments were digitised as images. The service providers Mikrounivers from Berlin, Weidner/Danetzki from Rheinbreitbach and Merlin from Essen (as consultants) created 11,600 TIF master images. To save costs, the quality was reduced to a resolution of 300 dpi (600 dpi for manuscripts) and 24-bit colour depth (48 bit for one Beethoven autograph). The final master data had a size of about 1 TB.

All TIF master data were saved on hard disks. The conditions for a long-time storage without any data losses are directly linked to the type and storage of the data carriers, the use of standards, the development of concepts and the consideration of resources to renew data cariers on time, migrate data to new storage technologies and convert it to new formats. Apart from that, the Civil Defense Centre of the German State Administration Office plans to transfer the data on colour microfilm and keep it at the Central Safekeeping of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Digital Archive of North Rhine-Westphalia, started in 2012, is a pilot project for long-term archiving.

In the Digital Archive of the Beethoven-Haus four image sizes are available. They were adapted to a medium standard resolution for screens and currently have the following properties:
a) Gallery format (165 pixels)
b) Medium format (800 pixels)
c) Full-page format (1,280 pixels)
d) High-resolution format (unscaled, only for internal use)

The bibliographical, systematic and structured metadata are contained in the library catalogues and specific Excel sheets and databases.