Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Friday, May 17, 2013

To the Beat of Beethoven

Beethoven "BLUE" (1987) by Andy Warhol
Height: 97 cm Width: 97 cm
I was channel surfing this morning and happened upon a concert in Verbier , Switzerland featuring classical pianist David Fray on the Ovation channel. He was playing Bach but his pouty, brooding style reminded me of Beethoven and our recent visit to his birthplace in Bonn, Germany.
We decided to stop in Bonn on our way to the middle Rhine River valley from Koln (Cologne). Seeing the house where Ludwig van Beethoven was born was one of the cultural features of our road trip. Bonn is actually very close to Cologne. It was the provisional capital of Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government from 1990 to 1999 when it was replaced by Berlin. Bonn looked very industrial but as a capital, it appeared to me rather provincial compared to other capitals even though it is still the seat of almost half Germany's federal agencies and hosts several international organizations such as the United Nations.

Our GPS directed us exactly to Bonngasse 18-24 where the Beethoven house is located. Since it is a pedestrian only street, we had to find parking. There was actually a parkhaus(parking garage) across the street but because of the one way streets and no possibility to make a U turn, it took us several attempts to get there including crossing the bridge over the Rhine at least 3 times.
The Baroque facade of the house Beethoven was born in Bonn.

I did not expect that Beethoven's house would be located in a street filled with local store fronts and restaurants. In Beethoven's time,  I imagined it to be a quiet street filled with homes of well to do families. The street was actually one of the main thoroughfares in Bonn until the late 1950s.

The door leading to the museum
Ludwig van Beethoven who was named after his grandfather and also godfather was born on December 17, 1770 in one of the attic rooms of Bonngasse 20, a baroque facade building. It  now houses a museum dedicated to the life and times of Beethoven and holds a digital collection of all of his known works as well as sheet musics. You enter the museum through the gift shop and then the back gardens which lead to the entry into the museum. Entry fee is 2EUs and no camera or large bags are allowed inside. Lockers are provided for storage. Please click on the link to the official museum site for a virtual tour of the Beethoven Haus museum. With the virtual tour you can actually 'walk' all the rooms we were in and zoom in on items we saw to get more details and information.

The gallery of Beethoven busts in the garden of the Beethoven  Haus
At the age of 8, Beethoven was already recognized as a child prodigy and  publicly performed on the piano in Cologne. He published his first composition at the age of 12.  When he was 14, he already joined the court orchestra and was giving private music lessons along with his father to families of noble members of the court. He travelled to Vienna to have lessons with Amadeus Mozart and later with Joseph Haydn. His study trip to Vienna turned out to be a permanent one due to the French occupation of Rhineland. He is to have many rich and influential patrons.  Ludwig became increasingly deaf by 1802 but continued to compose and perform, Beethoven died on March 26, 1827 in Vienna.

Fur Elise section in Beethoven's handwriting
One of my favorite compositions by Beethoven is Fur Elise (Bagatelle in A Minor). We bought a music sheet of it at the Museum shop and tucked into it is a couple of pages reproducing the original music sheet written by Beethoven. Not having any talent for putting musical notes into an original compositions, much less reading them, it is a wonder to me how anyone could have transcribed the original. My favorite of his sonatas are Pathetique 2nd movement and Moonlight and symphonies,  5th symphony in C minor and the 9th symphony in D minor which included the choral for Ode to Joy. Please press on titles to link and listen to the actual compositions.

While walking through the museum, the one thing that struck me is how the young handsome Beethoven was portrayed in pictures, paintings and sculptures as increasingly sulky, angry and  brooding as he got older. I think he felt cursed that as a musician and composer he turned deaf.    And yet, that did not stop him from composing masterful works and producing a body of work that would make him  one of the greatest musicians of any generation and whose music will continue to be admired and played now and in years to come.  As a giant in the realm of classical music, Beethoven's influence on all musical genres  is without question.

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