M.Sieber oil on canvas, 1913 The grandiose image of Beethoven's face appears to an unsuspecting man and woman who,
in the author's intent, represent all of Humanity.

Naoum Aronson, Russian-French sculpture (1872 – 1943).
Bronze casting, green patina, Bonn, 1905.

Rudolf Alfred Höger, Viennese painter and landscaper, 1876–1928.
Oil on canvas, late 19th century.

Marcello Mascherini, Italian sculptor and set designer (1906 – 1983).
Bronze casting, green patina, Trieste, 1925.

Facsimile detail
of the autograph score
of the Ninth Symphony.

Alois Kolb, allegory inspired by the Piano Sonata in C minor No.8, opera 13 "Patetica" (1798-1799). Original etching and aquatint, Leipzig, 1921.

Bust by Marcel André Bouraine, circa 1925

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L1770-2020V
BEETHOVEN

The Man. The Genius. The Myth

A great exhibition beyond the borders of music  


Galleria Harry Bertoia – Pordenone
September – December 2021


Two hundred and fifty years after the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, in a cultural confrontation packed with initiatives and events dedicated to the Anniversary, this project aims to be “a great exhibition beyond the boundaries of music”:  “great” for the intrinsic international value of the event, guaranteed by the quality and uniqueness of the works on display, coming from the Carrino Collection of Muggia, among the most important Beethoven collections in the world. Beyond the boundaries of music”, for the many perspectives and points of view that embrace a wide audience, not only musicians and musicologists, but also fans of art, books, cinema, costume history, collectors or, simply, those who are curious about Beethoven’s singular human and artistic story, enlivened by multimedia contributions in a modern exhibition space.

Where does Beethovens Myth come from? From the encounter between his genius, which distances him from us, and his humanity that brings him closer to us.” 

Lionello Balestieri, Beethoven composes his “Symphonies”.
Printed postcard in Paris, early 20th century.

The event in Pordenone will be an exhibition never seen before, which certainly wants to capture and explore, through a multifaceted and engaging itinerary, three inseparable aspects of the great German musician: the Man, Genius and Myth. Ludwig van Beethoven’s mythical dimension is undoubted. Few people can boast such a powerful image stamped in the minds of the collective imagination: his iconic face is a heritage of humanity, like those of Jesus, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and a few others. The opening of the 5th symphony is the best known in the world. Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Joy, played in Symphony No.9, is the Anthem of Europe. His funeral was among the first media events in history. Where does this myth originate? The exhibition ventures a theory: from the singular encounter between Beethoven’s genius (what distances him from us) and his humanity (what brings him closer to us). This giant of music, in fact, has been able to embody profoundly human values: the dignity of mind that prevails over the nobility of blood, the freedom that defies conventions, the inner strength that overcomes the destiny of an absolute ear condemned to deafness, a incommunicable drama, yet communicated lucidly in the Testament of Heiligenstadt. The Master, who lives and expresses himself with the physical vigour of his impulses, is also a metaphysical figure, fighting in a sublime and solitary mental world: “My kingdom is in the air. As the wind often does so the sounds swirl around me, so everything swirls around my soul.”

“Deeply human artist, philosopher musician, first “rockstar” of history, sacred and desecrated icon… Who is Beethoven”

Postcard of 1918 and Beethoven gadget: the smoking master.

In Beethoven, artistic power seems to be the extension in notes of his proud somatic traits. His symphonies speak to men about men, created around concepts with universal repercussions: faith, love, joy, destiny. With him music becomes thought and thought becomes music, which comes from an inner world, driven by the conscience and freedom of a modern artist.
With his culture and intellectual rigour, Ludwig van Beethoven is a philosopher musician. With his energy, he is the first “rockstar” in history.
Multifaceted and complicated, even his biography full of human contradictions, the German Genius was able to strike a chord with popular imagination: his sublime art (and the shadow of his art) has been thus subtracted from the cathedrals of music to the point of being “desecrated” in the violent liturgies of the Mechanical Orange. His unforgettable face was lent to Kitsch, eventually becoming an ambassador of… wine, or to ennoble even a modest pipe. “Ceci n’est pas Beethoven”, Magritte would say. Actually, this is Beethoven too: it is his tribute paid to a destiny of immortality. 

“A narrative and interactive exhibition, for lovers of beauty and explorers of curiosities.”

Original photograph of the bedroom where Beethoven died March 26 1827.
Vienna, Schwarzspanierhaus (House of the Black spaniards), Atelier Brand & Barozzi, October 23 1903.

The exploration of the relationship between Man, Genius and Myth, becoming a common thread of the exhibition that takes place on two floors of the Harry Bertoia Gallery in Pordenone. The investigation is based on precious clues: unique works of art (painting, sculpture, graphics) and masterpieces of applied art, selected specimens from the collections of medals, bookplates (the largest Beethoven collection in the world), figurines and philately, advertising, gadgets from yesteryear. Ample space is dedicated to documents, biographies, musical publications, scores, with an extraordinary selection of first editions and valuable editions. The narrative itinerary is flanked by technical and historical insights on the proposed artistic forms, enriched by multimedia contributions and an interactive “laboratory” to put Beethoven “under the magnifying glass”.
The exhibition will be, enriched by a busy schedule of musical and cultural events in keeping with the exhibition proposals.


FIRST FLOOR: THE MAN AND THE GENIUS

Itinerary dedicated to the Man: his life, his world, his sentiments, his ideals.

The exhibition starts with a premonition of Beethoven’s spirit, entrusted to 14th-century verses, proposed in a very rare and authentic printed edition of the early 16th century! After this timeless opening, Beethoven tells his story in the first person, dragging us into his restless biography. The wealth of the Carrino Collection allows us to get to know a thousand facets of the Genius, a thousand places of a “nomadic” existence, however, spent around the focal point of Vienna, his difficult and mysterious loves, his complicated social relations, his contrasts with the aristocracy. Who commissioned him. After a pause dedicated to the literary wonders which flourished around Beethoven, the journey culminates with a radiant homage to the ideal world and Beethoven’s thought, which give substance to the original genius of his works, and then sink into the drama of his deafness, in a dark room that tells of a musician prisoner of silence.


SECOND FLOOR: THE GENIUS AND THE MYTH

An itinerary dedicated to the myth of Beethoven in all its many and brilliant manifestations.

An audiovisual reflection on the myth of Beethoven opens the second part of the exhibition, which welcomes the viewer with a spectacular selection of works of art, in particular sculptures, which offer a European variation of Beethoven’s artistic cult. This section is completed by a review of fine editions, still from various European countries, and an in-depth look at the Ninth Symphony, Anthem of Europe. Next is a large space dedicated to the extreme manifestations of the Myth of Beethoven, to its consecration and desecration: from the political exploitation of his person and his work to his face lent to masterpieces of applied art and to the world of Kitsch, to his involuntary interpretations as an advertising testimonial. 

After a collection of medals and bookplates, with authentic masterpieces of intimate and still little-known art, the exhibition closes with an opening dedicated to brilliant graphic works inspired by Beethoven’s inspired masterpieces: an insight into real musical visions.


SIDELINE MUSICAL MOMENTS

For the duration of the exhibition, concerts and in-depth concert lessons are planned, inside the exhibition space. A busy calendar of events will offer viewers the opportunity to combine listening moments and guided themed tours.

The event calendar is being defined.