In the context of Germany’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, BOZAR will contribute to Beethoven’s 250th birthday celebrations by hosting an exhibition that takes a fresh and contemporary look at the famous composer, his music and his ideas.
Hotel Beethoven tells the story of how Ludwig van Beethoven became a universal icon, and how he has remained relevant to this day. Indeed, he continues to inspire our modern-day composers, musicians, artists and listeners. The rooms of Hotel Beethoven reflect neither the man nor the myth, but the artist’s living legacy.
From popular culture to conceptual art, spanning the period from 1770 to 2020, and with original manuscripts and instruments set against works by artists such as Antoine Bourdelle, Andy Warhol, Christine Sun Kim, Katie Paterson and John Baldessari: Hotel Beethoven takes us on a musical journey through time by stimulating not just our ears, but all of our senses.
The German classical musician and composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) is seen as an exceptional musical innovator, and has achieved iconic status around the world. Every aspiring pianist practises his Für Elise. Europe has adopted his 9th Symphony (Ode to Joy) as its official anthem. The four trademark notes of his 5th Symphony, one of the best-known pieces of classical music, resurface time and again in popular culture. But what does Beethoven mean for us today?
Hotel Beethoven was conceived as a place to meet and exchange ideas. It examines the meaning of the cult figure that Beethoven has become, as seen through the eyes of artists past and present, against a backdrop of historical documents. In the exhibition, which is as much about the eyes as it is about the ears, curator Eric de Visscher engages the visitor with a cultured auditory tour and a varied programme of live events. Themed hotel rooms offer a contrasting and essentially contemporary view of Beethoven’s legacy: Beethoven the icon, the creative process, his view of the world and political issues, the matter of hearing and deafness, his favoured instrument, the piano, and the modernity of Beethoven’s music.
The exhibition features works by artists such as Antoine Bourdelle, Franz von Stuck, Andy Warhol, John Baldessari, Jan Vercruysse, Jorinde Voigt, Christian Marclay, Christine Sun Kim, Jeremy Deller and Katie Paterson. There are also original manuscripts and musical scores by the master, on loan from the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn.
Also on Travel Tomorrow
- 5 stunning parks in Berlin for an autumnal walk
- Lanzarote: a completely different island
- Travelling by train during Covid-19
Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, is evoked in a ‘Black Lives Matter’-inspired video by New York’s Heartbeat Opera, in reference to freedom and the fight against totalitarianism. The film ‘Wir haben die Schnauze voll’ (We’re Fed Up) of Jeremy Deller, commissioned by the Bonner Kunstverein to mark Beethoven’s celebratory year, is to be shown in Belgium for the first time.
One of the exhibition highlights is a room containing 4 historical pianofortes belonging to Chris Maene, which show how the instrument evolved over Beethoven’s lifetime. An audio system designed especially for this exhibition lets visitors hear the unique sounds of the pianos and their influence on the composition of music. They can also be heard live in intimate sessions arranged with the Belgian conservatories. Interestingly, one of the pianofortes has been fitted with a Gehörmachine: the device that helped Beethoven distinguish the sounds of his piano as he began to lose his hearing, in a faithful reconstruction, a research programme of the Orpheus Institute in Ghent conducted by Tom Beghin.
To illustrate Beethoven’s universal appeal, BOZAR has launched Beethoven World Theatre: a worldwide call for contemporary artists to create new artworks reflecting their take on the Beethoven myth. Six films were chosen from among the entries, to be shown for the first time during Hotel Beethoven.
Under the title Beethoven From Ear to Here, BOZAR will host encounters with a variety of personalities, from Beethoven expert Jan Caeyers to the artist Jeremy Deller or the deaf musician Paul Whitakker, who will share with the audience their understanding of Beethoven’s genius and power.
The exhibition was produced in collaboration with the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, and it stands as a complementary and contemporary continuation of their Beethoven. Welt.Bürger.Musik exhibition, which ran in Bonn in the spring of 2020.
Hotel Beethoven falls under BOZAR’s ‘Art & Well-being’ theme for the 2020-2021 season. The varied programme of exhibitions, installations, performances, concerts, workshops and debates investigates how the experience and creation of art affects our mental, physical and social well-being.