A Dream Come True
by Alia Mohammed
This year marks the Beethoven Center’s thirtieth anniversary. For curator Patricia Stroh, the anniversary also marks nearly three decades of dedication, loyalty, and love for music. “It’s amazing to me that we’ve reached thirty years,” laughs Stroh. “It was a unique situation in that the Beethoven Center and I grew up together.”
The Beethoven Center’s exhibit space is full of finely polished vintage keyboard instruments. Stroh does not have much time to play these days because of a full schedule of events, exhibits, and tours, but when she does, her favorite pianos are the Dulcken fortepiano and the original English Broadwood piano. Lately she plays with a cellist, enjoying the difficulty of Beethoven’s earlier sonatas for cello and piano. “It’s a lot of fun,” she says. “As a pianist I enjoy Beethoven’s earlier works.”
Stroh’s love of Beethoven started early in her youth, around age twelve. “I fell in love with his music thanks to my mother, who belonged to a classical music record club.” Her most memorable moments of playing the piano were those playing Beethoven’s compositions.
Beethoven soon became her favorite subject, and with her master’s degree in musicology and a library degree, her job as curator for the Beethoven Center could not have been a better match. As with many others, her love of Beethoven transfers over into present day collections, especially the special collections. San José State’s Beethoven Center holds the most extensive special collection of Beethoven materials outside of Europe, including first editions, art works, manuscripts, and many other formats.
Stroh works with the collection, making it widely available to students and faculty by creating the Beethoven Gateway, an online database that holds scans of many of the Center’s first editions and manuscripts. As curator for the Beethoven Center, she oversees the collection’s protection and storage, as well as the quality of the information she provides on the database. But that’s not all she does. This Beethoven lover not only provides resources for other music lovers, she also produces a column in the Beethoven Journal, where she shares the most recent books relating to Beethoven as well an auction report of items sold and for sale.
Despite the many years of challenging work, Stroh has never faltered in her love for Ludwig van Beethoven and the Center. “It has never become mundane, and I still wonder at my good fortune to have been able to work in an environment I love so much.’
Well into her twenty-ninth year at San José State, she couldn’t be more excited at how far the Beethoven Center has come. The thirtieth anniversary is a big one, and Stroh is thrilled to be here for this landmark on July 24, 2015.
“It’s special to see the Center grow and develop in this building [MLK Library].” Even as she faces this historic occasion she looks to the future, for there is a bigger, more exciting anniversary coming up in five years: the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. “It’s exciting to think about how we will be involved in that.”