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The 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven's birth will be celebrated all over Germany – as well as in many other parts of the world – in 2020.

In Abu Dhabi, The Hamburg Symphony Orchestra will premiere Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in the Middle Eastwith 100 musicians and a chorus of 70 singers. First performed in 1824, the 9th Symphony was Beethoven’s last symphony. The words for the composition were taken from Friedrich Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy which to this day embody the values of the Enlightenment.


Back in Beethoven's day, ‘oriental’ culture was viewed as the epitome of an exotic world extending from east of Vienna all the way to China and Japan. A child of his times, Beethoven, like many other illustrious composers, made use of the ‘alla turca topos’ in his music and took an interest in the Isis cult of Egyptian mythology as well as, in later years, in Indian culture. These influences can be heard in some of ’Orient’, Western music was catching on there, for the most part disseminated by colonial structures. To this day, Beethoven's music is widely appreciated, and provides a rich sounding board for new interpretations, in many of these countries.

Starting in 2020, an international Goethe-Institut project series called The other Beethoven(s) will be showcasing unfamiliar perspectives on Beethoven’s person and oeuvre. Artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Romania, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Germany have been working with their local Goethe-Instituts to develop their own projects. They trace the non-European influences on Beethoven and vice versa the influences of Beethoven's work on non-European cultures and translate them into a contemporary idiom. Their results will be presented in their own countries and in Germany in 2020 as part of the Beethoven jubilee.