What makes Beethoven so special?

Beethoven on the streets of Bonn

At the heart of Bonn

"Beethoven is important because he gets into your heart, you feel it - the sound. Other classical composers can do that too, but Beethoven is special because we know him here in this town," says Claudia Heller.

Beethoven on the streets of Bonn

Taking Beethoven on tour

Sönke Lenz, project director of the National Youth Orchestra of Germany, says "I love Beethoven's music and am often occupied with it. We play a lot of Beethoven and do so with great joy. I have an intense relationship to Beethoven, and can't separate the personal from the professional – also because he affects the way I spend my evenings, and we're often on tour with Beethoven's music."

Beethoven on the streets of Bonn

Legendary pieces

"I first heard Beethoven when I was five or six years old," says John Kuo. "My parents played Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Now I really like the Ninth Symphony. It's such a powerful work. I came here to the Beethovenfest from Canada to experience more of his legendary pieces."

Beethoven on the streets of Bonn

Next generation Beethoven fan

"Beethoven makes good music," says Luka. "I don't really have a favorite piece by Beethoven, and I don't play his music either, but I like his music in general."

Beethoven on the streets of Bonn

Building the foundations

"There are some composers who have laid the foundations for the future, Beethoven is one of those," says Karl Bernhard.

Beethoven on the streets of Bonn

Something special

"It was emotional and special atmosphere around here here because everyone was quiet and listening very carefully," says Jana Wuschke (left) of Beethovenfest's opening night. "It was something special to be able to listen to such great musicians I think."

Beethoven on the streets of Bonn

Most intense love

"I love Beethoven above everything else," says Mechtild Scholz, "all of the symphonies – especially the Ninth because there is singing in it – and all of the piano concertos. I'm not such a big fan of the chamber music though. Music is very important to me, and Beethoven in particular because he was born here in Bonn."

Beethoven on the streets of Bonn

More Beethoven to discover

"With Beethoven, the symphony you just heard is probably going to be your favorite one," says DW's general director Peter Limbourg. "But sometimes it depends on the mood. If I have a hard job ahead, I'll listen to the 'Eroica'. If I'm more relaxed and contemplative, it's the 'Pastoral'. I recently discovered his wonderful Triple Concerto - and have time to delve into his other works."

Beethoven on the streets of Bonn

A fine day for wonderful music

"It is wonderful, lively, exciting music," says Astrid Sieber. "I think there are lots of people here who like all of the different music styles we've heard in the town today."

Beethoven: What is all the fuss about? Deutsche Welle decided to take to the streets of Bonn to find out on Beethovenfest's opening weekend.

What do a tattooed millennial with a bouncing baby, a woman with a carefully curated blue bob, and an army of small children wielding helium balloons have in common?

Ludwig van Beethoven, apparently.

Bonn's Main Square was flecked with a myriad of visitors over the weekend, as the notes of the city's most celebrated son floated through the streets.

When concerts were transmitted live to Bonn's Market Square on the first three days of the Beethovenfest, people listened in attentive silence. The entire square was filled with people seated in folding chairs, and many more standing.

Some wore expressions typical of the dreamy appreciation of fine-tuned Beethoven fans; chins lifted in anticipation, swaying where they stood or plopped down in a seat to listen.

Others were wanderers, drawn in by the spectacle as they meandered about town for some Saturday shopping or Sunday cake and coffee. 

Many a keen-eyed parent spotted the promise of a yellow helium balloon by the stage, the ultimate entertainment package for an hour or so. 

And many a stray balloon was set free as the days progressed, the stern, printed face of Beethoven growing ever smaller as he disappeared back to the heavens. 

Nevertheless, each paused for a while to take in the music drifting down from the stage. 

"I think classical music is special for many people because often they think, ‘Oh, it’s too high for me, I don’t understand.' My husband for example, he never goes to classical concerts with me," said Claudia Heller as she watched on from the crowd.

Related Subjects

"And when it’s open, it’s outside, you can go and take a look, and and say ‘Oh it sounds good, let’s stay a few minutes here and hear something."

Deutsche Welle spoke to onlookers over the opening weekend and asked them what they think of Beethoven's music, and what makes him special.

Click through the picture gallery to find out what they said.