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Deutsche Telekom celebrates 250 years Beethoven with superstars Robbie Williams and Lang Lang

  • Deutsche Telekom will bring superstar Robbie Williams to Bonn's historic Hofgartenwiese on May 18
  • An artificial intelligence program is helping to complete Beethoven’s 10th Symphony
  • Lang Lang and Steve Aoki celebrate Beethoven with piano performance and DJ set

In 2020, the city of Bonn and the whole world will celebrate Ludwig van Beethoven – and Deutsche Telekom plans to play a big role in the celebration. The company will present numerous projects and events, including top acts, and projects featuring innovative technologies, in honor of the 250th birthday of Bonn's famous composer. For example: Deutsche Telekom plans to showcase some musical innovation for the digitalization age; bring a world star to Bonn, for an exclusive concert; present classical music in a completely new setting; and invite people around the world to #TAKEPART. Timotheus Höttges, Deutsche Telekom CEO, will present the Deutsche Telekom Group's wide-ranging program.

A world star at Bonn's historic Hofgartenwiese

Just about a year ago, during a panel discussion in Bonn's Bundeskunsthalle art museum, Höttges promised to bring a world star to Bonn during the anniversary year. And he's kept his promise: On May 18, British superstar Robbie Williams will perform at Bonn's Hofgartenwiese (a historic greensward bordering the University of Bonn's main building) and turbocharge a party with 25,000 guests. The entire concert will be streamed live via Deutsche Telekom's platforms. “I’m happy to announce that I will be in Bonn again next year. I’m looking forward to Beethoven's huge birthday party and an amazing concert for my German fans on May 18 on the “Hofgartenwiese,” enthuses Williams. Advance ticket sales begin officially at 10 a.m. on December 19. Tickets start at 55 euros and may be purchased online and at all the usual ticket outlets. Deutsche Telekom customers will have the opportunity to purchase MagentaMusik Prio Tickets (priority tickets) at beginning on 10 a.m. on December 16. Those tickets start at 45 euros. 

Artificial intelligence and augmented reality setting new standards

Deutsche Telekom plans to present an innovative app and an unprecedented AI project that will uphold its ambition to be a positive force for digitalization. The BTHVN2020 AR app, an augmented reality for smartphones, digitally brings a young Beethoven – at 22 years of age – to life. The young composer takes users to a total of seven central locations in Bonn that played a formative role in his life. In the process, he tells a number of fascinating stories first-hand. The stations on the walk include Beethoven's music room and bedroom and the old church in which he was baptized.

Shortly before his death, Beethoven began working on a 10th symphony, a work which was to remain unfinished. In cooperation with leading music and AI experts from around the world, and with researchers of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, Deutsche Telekom has developed an AI program that, via interaction with human experts, is completing Beethoven's final, unfinished, work in a manner worthy of the composer. When Beethoven died, he left only a few musical sketches for the symphony; no parts of the work had been completed. Now, under the direction of Dr. Matthias Röder, Managing Director of the Karajan Institute, a group of leading AI experts and musicologists, working in collaboration with the composer Walter Werzowa, have developed a Beethoven-AI system that "understands" Beethoven's style. In addition to Beethoven's body of work, the training database for the AI system has included the composer's ideas and sketches for the 10th symphony, along with all works of the composers and musicians who are known to have inspired and influenced Beethoven, such as Johann Sebastian Bach. The experts providing scientific guidance and supervision include Prof. Dr. Christine Siegert, head of the Beethoven-Haus research department. "In no way does this project seek or attempt to challenge the uniqueness of Ludwig van Beethoven's genius. We simply want to show how collaboration between human and artificial intelligence can enhance our own imagination. In our project, we are sticking closely to Beethoven's sketches, and we are only completing material for which enough input from the composer himself is available. Our international group of experts is backing this approach with their reputations," Höttges emphasizes.

During the press conference, a pianist and a string quartet performed an initial selection of excerpts from the composition. The world premiere of the so-completed 10th symphony will take place on April 28, 2020 in the Telekom Forum in Bonn. It will be performed by the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn under the direction of general music director Dirk Kaftan. Deutsche Telekom will release advance ticket sale information for the concert in good time.

The best of the best at the Deutsche Telekom pianist summit

The International Telekom Beethoven Competition Bonn, which has been held at two-year intervals since 2005, is a competition designed to find some of the world's most talented musicians. On December 12, a special performance, featuring all of the competition's prizewinners to date, will be held in honor of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. This "pianists' summit" will include the pianists Henri Sigfridsson, Ian Yungwook Yoo, Hinrich Alpers, Jingge Yan, Soo-Jung Ann, Filippo Gorini and Alberto Ferro. The very special evening program, under the artistic direction of Professor Pavel Gililov, promises to also feature a number of surprises. 

Become a piece of Beethoven

The Beethoven-Mosaic project invites people worldwide to become part of the Bonn cityscape in 2020, the Beethoven Year. Deutsche Telekom is inviting people (you!) to post pictures of themselves on the company's website from March 2020 on. Posted pictures will then be combined, mosaic-style, into a gigantic portrait of Beethoven. Throughout the coming year, the portrait will be displayed at prominent locations throughout the city, including the Bonn Münster (cathedral) and various Deutsche Telekom buildings.

Telekom Berlin Beethoven Celebration with Pure Piano and Electronic Dance

On September 9, Lang Lang, the Chinese star pianist, and Steve Aoki, a top American DJ, will be playing classical and electronic music at Deutsche Telekom's Berlin Representative Office. In cooperation with Deutsche Grammophon, Deutsche Telekom will present the Berlin Beethoven Celebration and invite the entire country to stream the event and #TAKEPART.

A Beethoven Night retrospective, with stars

A Beethoven Night (BeethovenNacht), powered by Deutsche Telekom, will also be held in December. The Beethoven Night, a gala celebration for the general public, will offer a look back at the anniversary year that will then be nearing its end. In addition to the Beethoven Orchester Bonn, the event will also feature the British composer Max Richter, a world premiere, as well as many other stars. 

Support for local events, and still more highlights

In addition to holding its own events, Deutsche Telekom plans to promote local anniversary-year events by making its Telekom Forum in Bonn available as an event venue. The so-hosted events will include the Jazzfest Bonn, which will be featured on two evenings. An opening concert to be held on April 30 will feature Klaus Doldingers Passport and the Bundesjazzorchester, Germany's national youth jazz orchestra. The second jazz evening, to be held on May 9, will feature the Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek and his band. In August, Beethoven MOVES! – a fascinating project of the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn and the Don Bosco Mission – will conclude at the Forum. In cooperation with the orchestra and young people from Bonn, former child soldiers and street children from Medellín (Colombia) will perform a timely new interpretation of Beethoven's 5th. symphony. A musical sample of that performance was presented on the Deutsche Telekom stage at this year's IFA trade show. Also at the Telekom Forum, the Junge Theater Bonn (JTB), a youth theater ensemble, will present a fall premiere of its play "TKKG – Das Tagebuch eines Komponisten" ("diary of a composer"). In the play, famous investigators Tim, Karl, Klößchen and Gaby will solve a case that was developed exclusively for the JTB, a case involving an old diary that may have been written by a 15-year-old Ludwig van Beethoven. Within the music scene, the Telekom Forum has built a fine reputation as a concert hall. It will provide a professional, worthy venue for performances in honor of the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven. 

About Deutsche Telekom: Deutsche Telekom at a glance


250th Beethoven anniversary

Information for the media on DT's commitment to the Beethoven Year 2020.