Travel: Beethoven’s Bonn

I took a day trip to the city of Bonn, the birthplace of the beloved Beethoven. Its history dates from 11 BC when the Roman Army was stationed at the current historical center, and consequently expanded this area into a military fort in the coming centuries. More recently, it was recognized as the  provisional capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 before it was relocated to the current Berlin.

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The main allure of this town was Ludwig Van Beethoven. He is a composer who I have long admired, and I cannot help but admit that my favorite pieces continue to be Fur Elise and his iconic 5th Symphony.

Beethoven was born to Johann van Beethoven and Maria Keverich in 1770, although his exact birth date is unclear. It is generally taken to be the 16th of December, the date before his baptism in St. Regius, as it was a tradition for children of that era to be baptized the day after birth.

He was one of seven children, however only him and two younger brothers survived infancy.

2013-05-02 04.56.58His primary music teacher was his father, but his methodology was harsh, and as an infant Beethoven is said to have stood over the keyboard in tears. Other local teachers rounded out his musical education with violin and viola. His talent was blatantly apparent even at a young age, and his father claimed that the boy was a child prodigy, and used the age of 6 (he was actually 7) on posters advertising for Beethoven’s first public appearance.

2013-05-02 04.26.50In the years following 1779, Beethoven studied primarily under Christian Gottlob Neefe, the official appointed Church Organist. It was Neefe that helped him publish his first compisition – a set of keyboard variations, = and later obtain a fully paid employee church organist position in 1784. This was a vital turning point in the teen’s history, as after his mother’s death, his father lapsed into alcoholism, which forced young Beethoven to be the primary source of income for his family.


Beethoven officially left Bonn for Vienna in 1792; his father died shortly after this.

He died on 26 March 1827. The picture below is his ‘death mask’ it was typically in that day to remove all of the individual’s hair to save as a keepsake.

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