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250th birthday programme: How the Siebengebirge will celebrate Beethoven's anniversary

250th birthday programme : How the Siebengebirge will celebrate Beethoven's anniversary

The Siebengebirge Tourism company has presented its programme for the Beethoven anniversary year 2020. In addition to a hiking trail, there will also be theatre and concerts. Here is an overview.

Schloss Drachenburg had not yet been built, the Grandhotel on the Petersberg, the rack railway and the Nibelungenhalle were still distant dreams of the future. But at the end of the 18th century the monastery of Heisterbach was just as busy as the numerous quarries: the Siebengebirge might have been similar in the time of Ludwig van Beethoven as they are today.

It seems certain that the musical genius who was born in Bonn liked to come to the other side of the Rhine and enjoyed nature on numerous excursions. And so it comes as no surprise that Tourismus Siebengebirge GmbH is presenting a programme for the composer's 250th birthday in 2020 that focuses in particular on his love of the landscape around Bonn and of nature in general.

Demanding circular trail

Beethoven hiking trail: the managing director Oliver Bremm describes the establishment of the Beethoven hiking trail as “one of the most important projects of Tourismus Siebengebirge GmbH”, which was created with the support of the city of Königswinter and the Rhein-Sieg district. With a distance of about 15 kilmetres, it connects the three stone slabs of the Beethoven Circuit in the Siebengebirge, which will stand on the Drachenfels, the terrace of the Grandhotel Petersberg and in front of the Zehntscheune of the Heisterbach Monastery. A total of 22 stelae in Bonn and the region will explain Beethoven's life and work in the region.

“It is a challenging circuit”, says Bremm. Although it uses already marked hiking trails, it will have its own characteristics and its own logo: a white "B" on a light-green background. The trail marking will begin in August. According to Mara Evens, employee of Tourismus Siebengebirge GmbH, the first guided tour of the hiking trail will take place on 15 September as part of the “City–Country–River” series of events.

Interviews and theatre

Interviews: what do the runner Konstanze Klosterhalfen, Bonn general music director Dirk Kaftan and Henning Wehland from the “Söhne Mannheims” have in common? They live, work or come from the region – and have spoken in short interviews about their very personal relationship to the musical genius. Approximately dozen videos of the interviews will gradually be published on the Internet.

Theatre: especially for the Beethoven anniversary, the NN Theatre from Cologne, which has been a guest at the Heisterbach monastery ruin with its summer stage since 2016, has conceived a play with the working title “Meisterschüler” (master student). This focuses more on the man himself than on the musical genius Beethoven: basically, “Beethoven for all”. The project partner is the city of Hennef, where the play will première on 27 and 28 June. The play can be seen in Heisterbach on 14 and 15 August.

Concerts and dance performances

Concerts: with "The Ruins of Athens" and the oratorio "Christus am Oelberge" the Kammerchor Oberpleis, conducted by Pavel Brochin, plans to perform two rarely-presented Beethoven works. Music lovers from all over the region will get their money's worth at the open-air concert on 16 August in the Heisterbach choir ruins, where about 100 singers, 40 orchestral musicians and three soloists will be on stage. Beethoven is also a theme at Schloss Drachenburg: works by Telemann, Bach's sons, Haydn and of course Beethoven himself will be on the programme of the EFO Baroque Orchestra on 30 August. Norbert Alich will be the compère.

Dancing: in 2020, more than 100 students from four schools in Bad Honnef will venture to play their own interpretation of Beethoven’s late string quartets, which they will do in a dance-like manner: the educational dance project “Beethoven to the power of 4” runs for four months under the direction of choreographer Anna-Lu Masch and will be accompanied by eight professional dancers, a live string quartet and a DJ. The piece will be performed between 14 and 17 June in a specially erected circus tent on the island of Grafenwerth. At the same time it is the opening event for Bad Honnef's Beethoven Festwoche.

(Original text: Heike Hamann, translation John Chandler)