Beethoven on His Travels

09.01.2018 to 13.05.2018

Today, travelling is important to us. We go to visit our friends and relations; people travel, perhaps for work or just to be somewhere different. Musicians travel, playing their concerts far and wide. Mozart and Mendelssohn were often on concert tour. But what about Beethoven? Twice he made the long trip from Bonn to Vienna; the second time he stayed in Vienna and made it his home. Where else did he go and why? How did they travel in those days - on foot, by water or with the postcoach?

You can go with Beethoven on his travels – you will certainly make some exciting discoveries!

Brief Guide
Map itineraries

In the open air – Beethoven and Nature

03.11.2017 to 08.01.2018

The special exhibition ‚In the open air - Beethoven and Nature’ focuses on an essential aspect of the composer's life: Beethove's relation to nature not only offers insight into his attitude of mind and his view of everyday existence but also into his musical creativity and compositional process.

'Nature' covers many things; the exhibition presents various approaches to the subject. We present this special exhibition on the occasion of the World Climate Conference (COP 23).

Extended to 8 January 2018

Brief Guide

The Beethoven-Haus in Bonn during the Nazi Period

10.05.2017 to 22.10.2017

In the history of the Beethoven-Haus Association, founded more than 125 years ago, the period from 1933 to 1945 was nearly unknown but the public interest in this area is growing. The Beethoven-Haus is now presenting its status as a cultural institution during the "Third Reich" based on a study published in 2016 by Patrick Bormann. This was the first time the sources of the Beethoven-Haus were evaluated in this context. The exhibition focuses on the aspiration and reality of the Beethoven-Haus' role within the cultural policy of the Nazis. How did the Beethoven-Haus dispose itself to anti-Semitism, persecution of the Jews, and within the German musicology? How did the Beethoven-Haus and the Beethoven-Archive react to Beethoven's appropriation as a "German" composer? How did they follow the tradition of the chamber music festivals during the annual Beethoven festival and how was the relationship with the well-known festival venues Bayreuth and Salzburg? What impact did World War II have and how did the reconstruction and restructuring succeed? The exhibition reveals compelling results and provides perspectives.


Beethoven and Church Music

05.03.2016 to 28.08.2016

Operatic Life in Bonn During Beethoven's Youth

22.10.2015 to 02.03.2016

Currently in the Beethoven-Haus, the glorious period of the Bonn Opera under Elector Maximilian Franz, in which the young Beethoven played in the orchestra, comes to life. Musical manuscripts that were once used there, for instance at the performance of Mozart's Magic Flute, can be seen in Bonn for the first time in 221 years. The exhibition shows how complex operatic productions were, how opera functioned back then, where its performances took place, and the many personalities who contributed their efforts. Let yourself experience firsthand this brilliant chapter of Bonn's cultural life!

International congress


Stefan Zweig as Agent of Beethoven's Manuscripts

13.05.2015 to 17.10.2015

Stefan Zweig was not only one of the most read authors of his time but also a connoisseur of autograph manuscripts. He himself brought together an exceptional collection of original manuscripts of writers and composers. He was convinced that a deeper understanding of an artistic work requires knowledge of the process of its creation. He therefore concentrated on manuscripts that came into being during that process, those that might be termed working manuscripts.

Zweig built up an impressive set of connections to collectors, research workers, antiquarian book sellers and auction houses such that he was informed of offers in good time. Recently surfaced documents, which also form the main thread of the exhibition, show that Stefan Zweig made a substantial contribution to the putting together of the Bodmer Collection, given to the Beethoven House in the will of Hans Conrad Bodmer. Bodmer, of Zurich, was perhaps the most important collector of Beethoven manuscripts and other items connected with Beethoven. To the musicologist Max Unger, Bodmer's most valued advisor and one of the leading Beethoven researchers of the time, Zweig mentioned in 1932 that "the existence of such a superb specialist collection demands that as much as possible go into it." In 1954 Bodmer bequeathed in turn his complete collection to the Beethoven House. In 1933 Zweig wrote resignedly to Max Unger: "I will probably leave off collecting altogether, I have enough to do collecting myself." Then, in the mid 1930s, with the political situation as it was, he parted with his whole collection, except for a few items.

Brief Guide

lluminating rays in the Enlightenment - The Bonn Lesegesellschaft (Reading Society) - Intellectual grounding for Beethoven and his contemporaries

18 March 2018 to 24 February 2019

The Bonn Lesegesellschaft was founded in 1787 with the explicit approval of the Elector Max Franz. The members belonged to the leading representatives of the Enlightenment in Bonn. Beethoven himself was not a member (because pupils and students were not permitted to become members on their own account, probably because of a wish to save them the associated costs) but was closely connected to the society however. Many court musicians were leading members. These included not only Christian Gottlob Neefe and Franz Anton Ries, Beethoven's teachers, but also Nikolaus Simrock and Joseph Reicha, furthermore Beethoven's friend Franz Gerhard Wegeler. The humanisation of each individual member and as a result of the whole society is defined as an aim. Public education in all sectors – moral, religious, aesthetic, scientific, economic and political – should be the way forward. Despite the lack of source material, it may be concluded that Beethoven may have been influenced by the notions of freedom: these were certainly debated by the Lesegesellschaft at the time.

The Lesegesellschaft welcomed prominent guests as Joseph Haydn and Wilhelm von Humboldt. The 21-old Beethoven went to Vienna with a clear view of the world and with the aim to become a pupil of Haydn.

The exhibition shows a kaleidoscope of intellectual movements in Bonn in respect to topics such as human rights, freedom of press, education, literature, philosophy by means of the Lesegesellschaft collection of paintings and books.