“Beethoven’s Vienna” Comes to Life

Hand-colored, perspective-view engraving of the Schwarzenberg Palace (courtesy of Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies).

Engravings of battle scenes and palaces. A Viennese cookbook from 1803. A zograscope and vue d’optique prints. A lock of hair. A quill pen. Music manuscripts. Period instruments. What do these items have in common?

They allow us to look into the years between 1792 and 1827 when Ludwig van Beethoven lived and worked in Vienna. “Beethoven’s Vienna – Music-Making, Machinery and Technology, the Imperial Capital and Its Surroundings, and Everyday Life” opens Jan. 26 at the King Library Special Collections exhibit hall and Beethoven Center.

The exhibit is free and open to the public through May 25. The pieces were curated by the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies.  The center is the only institution in North America devoted solely to the life, works and accomplishments of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Established in 1983 when Ira F. Brilliant donated his Beethoven collection to San Jose State, the center officially opened in September 1985 with a gala co-sponsored by the San Jose Symphony. Building on Brilliant’s original donation, the center now has the largest collection of Beethoven materials outside of Europe.

In addition to functioning as a research library and museum, the center is involved in a variety of educational programs and sponsors concerts, lectures, tours, and other events.

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