Beethoven's surviving relatives meet up in Bonn

Beethoven's surviving relatives meet up in Bonn

Beethoven’s 250th birthday is not until next year, but celebrations kicked off a little early this week in Bonn, as the famous composer’s surviving relatives met up for a Beethoven-tastic family reunion.

Beethoven family reunion in Germany

Two years ago, the Citizens of Beethoven Association in Bonn decided that they would invite all of the surviving descendants of the city’s most famous resident, Ludwig van Beethoven, to a grand family get together. Altogether, they managed to locate 136 Beethovens - most of them living in Belgium - and issued them a special invitation.

In the end, 47 Beethovens - a diverse crowd from all walks of life - were able to make it. One of them even had the first name, Ludwig! Over the course of the afternoon, they were given a tour of all the Beethoven hot-spots in Bonn, including the Beethoven House, his favourite pub, and the Hӧrl installation on Münsterplatz - site of the famous Beethoven monument. At the end of the day, they paused to get a Beethoven group photo.

Apparently, the name isn’t particularly noteworthy in Belgium: 25-year-old Lisa van Beethoven thought that the “Beethoven reunion” was a joke until she saw the actual invitation. In Germany, however, it attracts a great deal of attention. When Werner van Beethoven last visited Bonn over 10 years ago, the staff at Beethoven House were so overcome upon seeing his surname on his passport that they gave him free entry and invited him to dinner.

Beethoven in Bonn

The Beethoven family originally came from the area of Mechelen, near Flanders. In 1733, the Cologne Archbishop Clemens August von Bayern invited the singer Ludwig van Beethoven Sr. (Beethoven’s grandfather) to come to court. Ludwig Sr.’s son, Johann van Beethoven, was also a court musician. When grandson Ludwig Jr. was born in 1770, he followed in his family’s musical footsteps, remaining in Bonn until 1792, when he decided to move to Vienna to continue his education.

In 2020, Bonn - along with multiple other German cities - will celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday. The festivities have long been in the planning and will comprise of a 365-day programme of concerts, performances and other events. Although the city had high hopes that the newly-renovated Beethovenhalle concert hall would be opened for the occasion, the reconstruction project has been plagued by delays, and it now seems unlikely that the hall will be ready in time.

Thumb: Stefan Hermes / General Anzeiger Bonn



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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