January 15th, 2019

Beethoven Museum

Beethoven Museum


On Saturday D. and I visited the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San José State University.  It is the only museum and library for Beethoven research located outside Bonn, Germany (Beethoven's birthplace).   Here are some of the pics I took.


The Center's sign shows Beethoven's signature on it.





The position of the light reflections on the glass in this frame make it look like Ludwig's wearing pink lipstick.  A rather punk look, if you ask me.





This is a bronze maquette of the Beethoven figure from the Beethoven Monument in Vienna.





Beethoven reluctantly agreed to have a life mask made, and he apparently disliked the experience so much he had a hissy fit and cut the procedure short by grabbing it off his face, flinging it across the room, and making a hasty exit.





The museum showcases examples of the most common types of keyboard instruments during Beethoven's time, including harpsichords, clavichords, and foretpianos (forerunner of the modern piano).





This is a replica of a Jean-Louis Dulcken Fortepiano from ca. 1795, built by Janine Johnson and Paul Poletti in 1985.  The woods used to build this instrument include basswood, maple, mahogany, Swiss pear, lemonwood, cherry, walnut, spruce, beech, and poplar.   This instrument has 66 keys, fewer than the modern piano's 88.





Harpsichord by Eric Herz, Boston, 1977.  It is not known how much Beethoven played the harpsichord in his youth before it became eclipsed by the then-new fortepiano, but the publishers of his early pieces (up to Opus 27) marketed them for either instrument.  Cross-promotion was a thing even in the late 18th Century.





This catalog lists Beethoven's scores available for use by the Philharmonic Society of London in 1813.





Beethoven was not above scratching out his mistakes.





Part of the current exhibit, "A Short Biography of Beethoven."





In this penciled note, Beethoven asks his nephew to deliver an enclosed letter to his publisher Schlessinger.  (Read about Beethoven's fraught relationship with his nephew here.)





Creating masterpieces apparently made Beethoven grumpy.





A bust scowls down on us from a glassed-in shelf.





Grumpy McGrumperson.





If Beethoven had a cat, I'll bet it would be Grumpy Cat.





Beethoven was a snappy dresser.





This electronic keyboard in a corner looks incongruous in this setting.  I can't imagine any members of the American Beethoven Society wanting to play the Moonlight Sonata on it. (And I have no clue why linens are being stored on its bench.) 





Detail from "Beethoven and the Storm" by C. Schweninger, which commemorates Beethoven's decision not to take his own life out of despair over his worsening deafness.  In Beethoven's own words, "It seemed impossible to leave this world until I had brought forth all the music that was within me."  In the painting, Beethoven faces a stormy sky with a small section of clouds breaking open into rays of sunshine, representing the triumph of light over darkness.





Even the chair cushions have a Beethoven theme.





Read a brief article about Beethoven the man here.


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