History

How did the Beethoven Center find its way to San Jose?

A real estate developer in Phoenix, Arizona named Ira F. Brilliant donated his extensive collection of 75 first editions of Beethoven's music to San Jose State University to form the basis of a library and study center devoted to Beethoven's music and humanitarian accomplishments.

In May 1983 Ira and Irma Brilliant met with Dean Arlene Okerlund to discuss Ira's proposal to donate his rich collection to the University. Dean Okerlund and music librarian Barbara Jeskalian flew to Phoenix to inspect the collection in person, and after hearing their report, President Gail Fullerton gave her blessing to the new enterprise. A press conference on November 16, 1983 announced the creation of the first center in North America devoted solely to Beethoven.

The University appointed a professor from the History Department, Tom Wendel, to serve as the acting director until a permanent director could be found because of his many ties and contacts with San Jose's arts community. An executive board was formed for the 1983-84 academic year, and the board met to plan the Center's activities and hire its founding director. After a two-year search, the University offered William Meredith, newly graduated PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the position, and the Center opened to the public in September 1985. A few months later, curator Patricia (Elliott) Stroh joined the staff.