celebrates Beethoven

The Beethoven Anniversary in Mannheim

Few composers have remained relevant as long as Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), who occasionally abbreviated his name to “Bthvn”. In the year of his 250th birthday, his non-vocal signature seems quite contemporary. He was also one of the first to introduce classical music to the middle classes and thus to a broad public. A glance at the coming months shows the many ways in which the master and his work will be honoured in Mannheim.

Der Musikfrachter macht auch in Mannheim Halt.
Der Musikfrachter macht auch in Mannheim Halt. © BTHVN2020,

One major highlight is the arrival of the music freighter of the “Beethoven Jubiläums GmbH” company, which will stop at the Stephanienufer in Mannheim. This converted inland freighter cruises from Beethoven’s birthplace Bonn via the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers to Vienna, where the composer is buried. It will dock in Mannheim on 18 and 19 March and will be inviting you to enjoy some unusual encounters with Beethoven’s music.

The interpretations by bands from the Pop Academy should be just as exciting and original as those planned by the Brainsail Ensemble of the Mannheim University of Music and Performing Arts and the Mannheim Music School. One moment, classical music blends with rock and pop; the next minute, it’s jazz and oriental sounds. Unusual styles are also the theme of the workshop “Beethoven Crossover” organised by Jeunesses Musicales Germany. The Mannheim National Theatre will be participating in the music freighter’s programme as well with a special concert and performance.

Stage scenery at the Nationaltheater Mannheim
Stage scenery at the Nationaltheater Mannheim © Hans Jörg Michel

The two performances given by the National Theatre will certainly provide a good foretaste of the festival “Ideal and Excess”, which the theatre has scheduled for October to December. In terms of content, the performances will deal with the ambiguities of Beethoven’s life and work, such as the struggle between humanism and violence, pathos and emptiness.

No less exciting are the forms that the seven events will take: chamber evening, concert installation, lecture performance, film evening, family opera and concert theatre, including a theatrical version of the 9th Symphony. On 15 March, the National Theatre’s Music Salon will be dedicated to “Unequal Contemporaries: Beethoven and Du Puy”.

Die Mannheimer Philharmoniker widmen Beethoven einen ganzen Abend.
Die Mannheimer Philharmoniker widmen Beethoven einen ganzen Abend. © Daniel Wetzel

Few orchestras will be neglecting Beethoven in 2020 and this great composer is on the programme throughout the year. The Mannheim Philharmonic Orchestra will provide the dazzling upbeat on 27 February in the Rosengarten. They are set to perform all five piano concertos in just a single evening. In addition, they will have such major soloists performing alongside them as Elena Bashkirova and Sergei Babayan.

During the summer, the Mannheim Stamitz Orchestra will give an open-air concert on 27 June in the Edingen-Neckarhausen Schlosspark. Among other works, they will be performing the 8th Symphony. Later in the year, on 6 November, Sachie Matsushita and Tracy Moutsis will be brightening up the gloomy season with duos for violin and piano in the music library of the Mannheim City Library.

Winterlichter im Luisenpark Mannheim
Winterlichter im Luisenpark Mannheim © Luisenpark

The music library is currently presenting a rich selection of recent musical recordings, books, sheet music and AV media on Beethoven. “We lend out a large variety of media for children, such as illustrated biographies with CDs or radio plays”, explained director Susanne Schönfeldt. On 27 May, the Dalberghaus will be the venue for the event: “Thus fate knocks at the door!” This multimedia event will introduce young listeners to the life and work of Beethoven.

The “winter lights” in the Luisenpark are already providing a wonderful experience for all generations. To provide the musical backdrop for the video projection “Water Woman” at the “Weinstube” (tavern), lighting magician Wolfgang Flammersfeld chose String Quartet No. 10, also known as the Harp Quartet. A silhouette of female dancers captures the musical impression of Beethoven to perform a literally sensual birthday greeting.