Beethoven 2020 in Bonn Beethoven light art in Bonn city centre

Bonn · One week before the start of Beethoven's anniversary year, a pair of Berlin artists, “Schultze Müller”, will bring light art to the city centre. The want the installations to represent an artistic approach to the composer.

 The Hofgartenwiese as a dance floor? Nils Schultze and Felix Müller have previously placed the disco ball in front of the kurfürstliche Schloss. It will remain there until next Sunday. Photo: Benjamin Westhoff

The Hofgartenwiese as a dance floor? Nils Schultze and Felix Müller have previously placed the disco ball in front of the kurfürstliche Schloss. It will remain there until next Sunday. Photo: Benjamin Westhoff

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

“Surreal, but cool,” says Lieselotte Brandis, sipping her mulled wine. The student is standing in front of the Beethoven monument on Münsterplatz, that from just moments ago has been surrounded and illuminated by seven light rings made of LED fluorescent tubes. For the “Into the Light” project, the Berlin lighting artist duo “Schultze Müller” has set up ten light installations in Bonn's city centre, sponsored by the Beethoven anniversary society, BTHVN 2020.

The artist team wanted to depict the composer as a person, not through his music. “Beethoven was one of our colleagues”, Nils Schultze and Felix Müller see him as a person and artist who thought, lived and worked like people and artists in every age: “Our approach is sensual and not about music theory.”

You can imagine the city how the most famous son of the city experienced it. Going for a walk, for example, is a fairly new idea that only came into fashion among non-nobles in Beethoven’s day: The composer was one of the first people to walk along the banks of the Rhine for relaxation and reflection. The artists will project the wave movements of the Rhine onto the house wall opposite his birthplace.

BTHVN 2020: Lichtinstallationen in Bonn zu Beethovens Werk
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Lichtkunstinstallationen in Bonn knüpfen an das musikalische Werk Beethovens an

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Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

A spotlight connects Kaiserplatz and Poppelsdorf Castle with a wall of white light to a height of three metres. It alludes to the absolutism of Beethoven’s time, when an electoral Prince was able to decide autocratically to cut a path one kilometre long and 60 metres wide through the middle of the city in order to create a green strip between his castles.

The counterpart to this are Bonn's narrow alleys, which Beethoven finally left to go out into the world. An installation at the Alten Zoll is dedicated to the successful adult Beethoven, the “cosmopolitan Ludwig”. The names of cities all over the world are projected onto the wall, in which a Beethoven concert is currently taking place. A specially programmed algorithm constantly searches the Internet for current dates.

You can not only view Beethoven’s music at the Stadthaus but also experience it. Coloured light surfaces on the forecourt react to movement: When a visitor enters one of the areas, an image is projected onto the wall of the Stadthaus and a soundtrack is heard. The composer Sven Helbig has arranged themes from ten Beethoven pieces in such a way that they merge harmoniously.

Most of the installations are located in the city centre, a short distance away from each other and are easy to visit in one evening. The exception is “The Room”, an LED replica of the attic in which Beethoven is said to have been born. In the original scale and at the same height as its model, the room is projected above Wilhelmsplatz in the old town.

“This is our gift to the people of Bonn”, says Felix Müller, a piece of light art only for the inhabitants of the city away from the flow of tourists in the city centre. For visitors to Bonn, there is an identical room at the main station.

The feedback from spectators and dealers is very positive, says Nils Schultze, “many find it a pity that the installations will be dismantled again in a week”. The Berlin pair of artists would like to kick-off the Beethoven Year 2020 with their light art. Lieselotte Brandis sees this pragmatically: “I think it would be nice if the lights were to stay after the Christmas market has gone, if only to make setting them up worthwhile. But at least mulled wine is available whilst you see them.”

(Original text; Victoria Thiele, translation John Chandler)

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