It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that 2020 marks the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827), without doubt one of the greatest composers of all time.
Inevitably, concert programmes, air waves and the media will be suitably saturated throughout the year. And the celebrations start here…
The Beethoven 2020 Diary from Bärenreiter is a simple idea, brilliantly executed. Essentially this handsomely presented pocket diary offers an overview of the man and his music, presented in daily bite-sized chunks.
And for the record, generally I chuck pocket diaries straight in the bin.. this one, however, is a definite keeper!
Let’s find out why …
A year with Beethoven…
Back in the day, before electronic devices, online calendars or even the filofax (remember them?) most of us carried around a pocket diary to note down birthdays, important appointments, and so on. These days, such diaries may seem somewhat passé, but have found new life as promotional gifts.
And what better to promote than the music of Bonn’s finest, Ludwig Van Beethoven himself?
Bärenreiter’s Beethoven 2020 Diary is delightfully presented with a stiff burgundy cover (the same colour as their leading Beethoven editions), but once open, you won’t find a standard diary within.
According to the publishers,
“This practical pocket diary is designed to be your daily Beethoven companion through the year 2020 which is the 250th anniversary of this great composer’s birth. It presents interesting and amusing insights into Beethoven’s life and works. Quotations by Beethoven and about him illuminate many facets of his personality, whether familiar or surprising. He appears hot-tempered and humorous, vulnerable and sarcastic, isolated and driven by utopian visions of society.
Additional pages cast light on special aspects of his life – his composing and piano playing, his violent emotions (rage, humour, despair in the face of illness and death) and his relationship with people in his close surroundings, whether his nephew Karl, the “Immortal Beloved” or his brothers Kaspar Karl and Johann, the recipients of the “Heiligenstadt Testament”.
Taking a look inside…
At the start of the diary, instead of the usual London Tube map we are treated to a full-colour picture of the composer and an outline of the key events in his life.
And what follows, with a week-to-view, is a fascinating potpourri of information, quotes from Beethoven’s correspondence, reviews of his performances, illustrations, facsimiles of his manuscripts, and more.
For each day of the year (or at least most of them) we are given a snippet of information pertinent to that date, dotted from across the composer’s 57 years. Here’s a sample:
You’ll see from this that there is some space for your own notes, but not a lot. This isn’t a diary that would work as an appointment diary for many people, but that’s not really the point…
How about using the space to jot down the concerts you attend, and the pieces that you play and/or listen to?
In weekly diary pages are interspersed with two-page spreads focussing on a different theme; for example, Beethoven the pianist, Nature, The Heiligenstadt Testement, Beethoven’s nephew Karl, and many more. For each theme we are given a selection of contemporaneous quotes, excerpts from correspondence, and so on. Very illuminating!
The diary concludes with a page of 2020 and 2021 calendars, public and religious holidays, and a few pages for your own notes.
And I should mention one other final touch: there’s a ribbon book marker so you can quickly find your place!
The Beethoven 2020 Diary from Bärenreiter will neither replace a decent biography of the composer, nor usurp your usual appointment diary. However, it is a beautifully produced and enjoyable keepsake that fans and aficionados of Beethoven will want to snap up forthwith!
More especially, the diary will make a splendid gift for music lovers as the anniversary year approaches. It would be good to have a few as presents for family, friends and colleagues in the months ahead!
The diary is also, of course, a tremendous way for Bärenreiter to publicise their excellent and much admired new Beethoven Sonata complete edition, edited by Jonathan Del Mar, which I will be reviewing here on Pianodao shortly.
In short, the Beethoven 2020 Diary will undoubtedly enrich your appreciation of the anniversary year, adding insight to enhance your enjoyment of his music, and delicious tidbits to whet your appetite for a fuller look at the man and his times.
The Beethoven 2020 Diary is available from EVC Music here.