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December 13, 2018

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The First Beethoven Festival


The unveiling ceremony in 1845 of the Beethoven statue in the Münsterplatz (Minster Square) and, at the same time, the first Beethoven Festival are both organised by the composer Franz Liszt. The event proceeds not without embarrassment. The bronze Beethoven turns his back on the august guests of honour, King Frederick William of Prussia, and Britain’s Queen Victoria who are seated on the balcony of the Fürstenberg Palace, now the Central Post Office. Alexander von Humboldt’s presence of mind saves the situation: he points out that Beethoven had been known for his bad manners throughout his life. And there is more embarrassment in the offing. Liszt proposes a toast at the festive banquet which snubs the French guests headed by Berlioz fiercely, producing a tumultuous response. And Lola Montez, the famous and notorious Spanish dancer and mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who was the reason of his later abdication, performs an outrageous guest part dancing wildly on the tables.

Robert Schumann, the ingenious pianist and composer, comes to Bonn in 1854, severely ill, and dies here two years later in a mental institution at Endenich. He is buried in the ‘Alter Friedhof’ (Old Cemetery) as is later his wife Clara.

As publishers, Nikolaus Simrock and his son Karl write poems. In 1794, Nikolaus establishes his famous music publishing house. The name of Karl Simrock is inseparably linked to the translation of the Song of the Nibelungs and the redaction and translation of the poems of Walther von der Vogelweide, the most famous Middle High German poet. Simrock’s ‘German Chapbooks’ (‘Deutsche Volksbücher’) make legendary 55 editions between 1839 and 1867.

Last update: November 30, 2011



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