Just in: Germany puts up 6 million for Beethoven year

Just in: Germany puts up 6 million for Beethoven year


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2019

The culture minister Monika Grütters has signed off the federal budget for the Beethoven 250th anniversary year in 2020.

It’s six million Euros.



  • M McAlpine says:

    Well they should. He’s a home-town boy!

  • Novagerio says:

    Gut so! Bravo Frau Grütters, bravo Deutschland!

  • We privatize your value says:

    The year has 365 days and the country of Germany has 81.5 million inhabitants, so this doesn’t sound like overspending.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Beethoven is a much safer and more humanist cultural symbol than Wagner, who was fêted in 2013 with lots of grumbling and grinding of teeth.

    The irony is that in a country where Klangkunst reigns supreme – that is, in the margins of music life – the best symbol of its cultural identity is the very opposite. But if LvB would appear today with his classical symphonies, he would be thrown into jail, to protect Klangkunst from the influence of music.

  • Tamino says:

    That’s worded a bit misleading, it’s not *the” federal budget for that. The 6 million are for special projects only. Application deadline is end of March. Of course there is much more money for the regularly budgeted Beethoven celebrations in countless places and events.

  • That’s the federal budget. Always worth mentioning that in Germany the bulk of the funding comes from the state and local level. There will be a vast amount more than 8 Million spent on this particular commemoration, you can count on that.

  • Rgiarola says:

    Let’s say, really small for a country that mostly rely on government funds for almost everything including classical music. I can bet Austrians and even more Bristish will do better. They always do since Beethoven was still alive.

    • John Borstlap says:

      During Beethoven’s life it was never the government that supported him. He had to organise his concerts himself (called ‘Akademie’), hiring the hall and orchestra and singers, programming, producing tickets, publicity, have orchestral parts copied, etc. If he were lucky he could keep the remainder of the money produced by the tickets. The pension he received in 1809 was a private initiative, triggered by the invitation of King Jérome of Westphalia, and paid by the emperor’s brother Rudolph, and two other noblemen, out of their own pockets. It was never a state issue, although B was internationally famous at the time.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        And thank the deity of choice for the prescience and generosity of those aristocrats.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Indeed….. they liberated him from any pressure so that he could write his music in peace, and thanks to Kinsky, Lobkowitz and Rudolph Habsburg, we have all of B’s music after 1809: all the piano sonatas incl Hammerklavier and the last 3, and all other chamber music from opus 78 onwards, 5th pf concerto, symph 7, 8 & 9, Fidelio, Missa Solemnis, Diabelli Variations, the last string quartets. These three people are – in a spiritual but also in a real sense – co-authors and midwives.

  • music_montreal says:

    It’s Beethoven…

  • anon says:

    Classical music composers should have perpetual copyrights to their works.

    They only make money (and lots of it) after they’re dead.

    I don’t think Beethoven or Mozart, died debt ridden and buried in a pauper’s grave (Mozart anyway), could’ve imagined how much they could’ve made since their deaths.

    Alas, it’d be their heirs who would benefit, so wholly unmerited. (And who are the descendents of Mozart and Beethoven anyway?)

    • John Borstlap says:

      Living composers receive royalties from performances of their work, next to – if they are lucky – commission fees. Ironically, royalties burden the budgets of performing bodies and add to the barriers to performances, of which the highest is the suspicion towards and low opinion of contemporary music (in many cases, well-deserved).

      Commission fees are ‘spread-out’ if a composer works slowly, thus thinning the income contribution, but if a composer easily and quickly writes his commissions, fees can accumulate densily. In the latter case, the quality of the music is mostly not very high, further adding to the low reputation of new music. All this creates a vicious circle from which it is difficult to escape.

      The ony possible conclusion would be, that good new music cannot possibly be written with the aim to earn money, which forces a composer to have other income sources or marry rich. For most of them, teaching is a workable option.

      In some countries, systems of state-subsidies have been created (Finland, Holland, Belgium) which resulted in strongly-politicized circuits, a bit like the former Soviet-Union, complete with the infighting, party lines, ideologies, but those systems don’t appear to truly create a financial basis for worthwhile new music since instead of free market forces, politicized selection processes try to sift the worthy from the unworthy, which most of the time produces opposite results.

      As we know, the camel is an animal designed by a selection committee.

      In general, conditions are such nowadays, that royalty generating serious composers can only provide an income for their progeny. So, it is wholeheartedly to be recommended that living composers procreate, to fulfil the conditions of a long process of delayed posthumous gratification.

  • Robert Roy says:

    Could you imagine the U.K. Government doing that for Elgar?!

  • Nick says:

    What can anybody do with 6M Euros? It is petty cash for a country like Germany, not to mention, for a Name like BEETHOVEN!!! Yeah, it is better to spend billions on illegal migrants,so that they can dump the host country of course than to try and preserve one’s NATIVE CULTURE!

    • John Borstlap says:

      Nonsense… most of the immigrants go through a Europeanization process and become European / German. (In these days, much effort is spent on that by the locals.) And after some time, their children will discover classical music, and some of them will become excellent musicians (like the Afkham brothers: conductor and violinist).