18th June 2021

National Library of Latvia: Beethoven Orbits Exhibition

The ceremonial opening of the large-scale Beethoven. Orbits exhibition will be broadcast live from the Latvian National Library (NLL) at 16.00 on 16 June and can be viewed on the NLL’s website, as well as on its Facebook and YouTube sites. The exhibition was originally intended to host visitors at the end of 2020, when the 250th anniversary of the great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) was celebrated widely around the world. However, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the opening event has had to be postponed a number of times. As the epidemiological situation improves, the Library will re-open to readers from 12.00 on 16 June, after a break of more than six months, in particular inviting visitors to the new exhibition. The exhibition will remain open until 28 November, with free entrance.



The exhibition’s content has been curated by Professor Lolita Fūrmane of the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music (JVLMA). Her research on the significance of Beethoven’s music to Latvia in different eras will be revealed through many historical documents, including an original letter from Beethoven. At the same time, Professor Fūrmane’s research on different performances of his music and the personalities involved also exposes Latvia’s rich cultural life and especially emphasises the presence of Beethoven’s music in different political and historical contexts, right up to the present day. The exhibition features stage-design sketches by Ludolfs Liberts for the performance of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio at the Latvian National Opera in 1925 from the collection of the Museum of Literature and Music, early sheet music from Liepāja’s St. Trinity Cathedral and other items of note.

“The whole life of Ludwig van Beethoven, which was inexorably and tragically affected by him losing his hearing at the age of 30, has become an astonishing story of human spiritual strength. This deaf giant of music – definitely a giant, who, according to many music historians of the Romantic era, was born perfectly formed like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. At the same time a man with a strong inner vision. This man, who is usually depicted as neglected, rough, ugly – threw away the world to fully serve his inner vision” is how Beethoven’s life story is described by JVLMA Professor Lolita Fūrmane.

The exhibition reveals Beethoven’s surprising connection with Latvia. Beethoven was never here, but, in his younger days, one of the composer’s friends was Karl Amenda (1771–1836), later pastor of the Talsi Evangelical Lutheran church. The exhibition will feature an original letter from Beethoven, addressed to Amenda in 1815, now held by the State Historical Archives of Latvia. For their part, the Counts Browne – owners of Sigulda and several other Vidzeme estates – were among the first patrons to support the young Beethoven in Vienna.

The exhibition has been designed by Anete Krūmiņa and Tatjana Raičiņeca, and Anda Boluža is the co-curator and project manager. Photographer Reinis Hofmanis and artist Liene Mackus have created works specially for the exhibition. A special sound installation – interweaving samples from performances of Beethoven’s most significant works – has also been created in cooperation with the Design Factory of Rīga Technical University.

The exhibition was created by the NLL in cooperation with JVLMA.

The exhibition has been created as part of Cultural Capital as a Resource for Sustainable Development project (No. VPP-KM-LKRVA-2020/1-0003) of the Latvian Culture as a Resource for National Development State Research Programme, and with the support of the State Culture Capital Foundation.

Exhibition will be able to accommodate nine visitors at a time. The wearing of face masks and 2m social distancing is mandatory for all persons. There is no need to register in advance to visit the exhibition.