Deutsche Telekom and the Beethovenfest Bonn are looking ahead to the 2021 Festival. The main features of the new program were presented today. In a welcoming message, Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges underlines the company's commitment to culture even in times of crisis.
2020 was supposed to be one big festival commemorating Ludwig van Beethoven – we were planning to hold all kinds of concerts and special events to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the great composer's birthday. But now the Covid-19 pandemic has thwarted those plans. On the brighter side, it's perhaps fitting that Beethoven, who suffered from illness throughout much of his life and yet overcame great hardship, will now be inseparably linked with this year of crisis and its many challenges.
In spite of the many serious ailments he endured, Beethoven gave us his Ode to Joy (Ode an die Freude), an immortal message of hope, optimism, unity and joy. This year we need that message more than ever.
Around the world, music brings people together. And it continues to do that even in times that mandate social distancing. Professional and amateur musicians all over the world have been giving impromptu concerts at home – in their living rooms, on their balconies, and in their gardens – and we've all enjoyed samples of the videos and photos that have resulted. In March of this year, performers of Berlin's opera Staatsoper Unter den Linden sang lines from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony from their balconies. In April, 19 members of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra gave an unforgettable online performance of the "Ode to Joy" in which they all played in their own homes. As of today, that clip has been watched nearly three million times on YouTube. In April, the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn also called on musicians to stage Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 as a home concert together with the professionals. Many music lovers followed this call. Other orchestras have played Beethoven symphonies in empty concert halls, for webcast distribution. In such examples, music and technology harmonize together in a truly wonderful way. And those online concerts show us, just in case we'd forgotten, that Beethoven "rules!" At any time, and in any medium.
Yes, digital technologies offer us great possibilities, but musicians and music lovers everywhere are eagerly awaiting the return of live concerts, live audiences and in-person participation. For this reason, we are delighted that the celebrations marking Beethoven's anniversary year are being extended into next year. And we are hopeful and confident that concerts with live audiences – of reduced sizes – will be able to take place as soon as this coming winter.
In times of crisis, Deutsche Telekom remains committed to music and cultural events in Bonn, and it remains a reliable partner of the Beethoven Festival. Fortunately, we have been able to postpone almost all of the events we had planned for 2020 to a later date. Together, we are looking forward to another musical year commemorating Beethoven and, hopefully, to the return of some semblance of normalcy in the near future. Until then, enjoy the beauty and sublimity of Beethoven's music at home. Let Beethoven relax you, distract you, edify you and perhaps even console you.
And stay healthy!
Yours sincerely, Tim Höttges