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Tuesday, February 20, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Beethoven's Genius on Display at Slee Hall


From letters to sheet music, trappings of classical composer Ludwig von Beethoven's life offer visitors to UB's Music Library Art Gallery a new look at the genius of the man responsible for composing some of the nineteenth century's most popular music.

The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 7, was organized to complement the UB music department's Beethoven Festival, held last week at Slee Hall. Performers included the Ying String Quartet, Slee Beethoven String Quartet and the Slee Sinfonietta.

The exhibit, said Assistant Professor of Music and Historical Musicology Christopher H. Gibbs, is designed to "increase the understanding of the music, because you know what's happening in Beethoven's life when he was writing it, or who first performed the piece or even who first listened to it."

The performances brought life to some of the manuscripts on display. Speaker Michael Broyles presented a music lecture on Thursday, titled "Whose Beethoven? The Life of Beethoven in the 20th Century." A special program with additional information on the artist was also available.

"The idea is to make the concert experience a little bit broader," said Gibbs, who masterminded the display of sheet music and letters.

It is formed by four small glass cases filled with tidbits of information on Beethoven's life and books of the classical master's compositions. It proceeds through his life, from early childhood through his death on March 26, 1827.

"The exhibition is rather modest but nicely complements what the concerts do. I hope it makes it a richer experience for all who come out to see it," said Gibbs.

One of the cases welcomes the viewer to Beethoven's adolescence, with silhouettes and prints of the composer as a young child. A map of Vienna, his hometown, is on display, along with an original printed copy of a poem by the German poet Ignaz Franz Castelli, which was distributed at Beethoven's funeral in 1827.

A particularly moving print, housed in the last case, shows the plaster skulls of Ludwig and fellow composers Joseph Hadyn and Franz Schubert.

The Music Library also displays many pieces of the gallery's permanent Beethoven collection, including several editions of the composer's complete works. Copies of his piano sonatas are available, as well as some of his quartet music.




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