Current Exhibitions

May 23-December 17, 2016: "Beethoven in Love"

Watch the introductory video


Who was Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved? Who were the other people cherished by Beethoven—the men and women who enriched his life and inspired his creativity? There are just two of the themes of the new exhibit on the 5th floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library.

Visitors will see enlarged reproductions of each of the 10 pages of Beethoven’s famous letter to his “Immortal Beloved,” along with an English translation marked with clues to her identity. Also on display are beautiful portraits of the three main candidates and many of Beethoven’s other close friends, accompanied by short stories of their relationships. Viewing engravings and color maps, visitors can trace Beethoven’s journey on in a postal carriage to Teplitz, the spa where he wrote the Immortal Beloved letter. A chronology of research and display of publications on the Immortal Beloved mystery will also help YOU decide on your favorite candidate, then please cast your ballot at the Immortal Beloved Voting Booth.  

"Beethoven in Love" coincides with the 200th anniversary of the publication of a beautiful set of songs called To the Distant Beloved. This set is the first song cycle ever composed, and fittingly for the Romantic period, it focuses on an unattained love that can be fulfilled jointly in song even when the lovers are physically separated ("when you sing what I have sung"). Beethoven’s love songs are featured in the exhibit, which also explores the concept of marital love and devotion in Fidelio, his only opera; God's love for mankind expressed in the Missa solemnis; and the common brotherhood of humanity in the Ninth Symphony, and his profound love of nature.

The exhibit is funded by the American Beethoven Society and a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José. FREE

Special collections exhibit hall and Beethoven Center, Room 580

To listen to some of Beethoven's love songs, click on the YouTube links below:


An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved)

Sung by Fritz Wunderlich


 “Gesang aus der Ferne” (“Song from a Distance”), WoO 137

Sung by Robert Holl


“L’amante impaziente” (“The Impatient Lover”) from Vier Arietten und ein Duett (Four Ariettas and a Duet), Opus 82, no. 3

Sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau


 Ah! Perfido (O Faithless One), Opus 65

Sung by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf


“Seufzer eine Ungeliebten / Gegenliebe (“Sigh of one who is unloved / Love returned”), WoO 118

Sung by Hermann Prey


“Die Sehnsucht” (“Longing”), WoO 134

Four versions sung by Adele Stolte


“Ich war bey Chloen ganz allein” (“I was completely alone with Chloe”), Opus 128

Sung by Fritz Wunderlich


“Maigesang” (“May Song”), Opus 52, no. 4

Sung by Peter Schreier


“Neue Liebe, neues Leben” (“New love, new life”), Opus 75, no. 2

Sung by Mark Padmore


 “Das Glück der Freundschaft,” (“The happiness of friendship”), Opus 88

Sung by John Mark Ainsley


Guevara Lock of Beethoven's Hair

Lock of Beethoven's Hair

The hair is on permanent exhibit at the Beethoven Center except when on loan to other institutions.

See also our online exhibits.



When and Where

Martin Luther King Jr. Library
Fifth Floor, Beethoven Center, Room 580
Current hours

Accessible for the disabled.

See Visitor Information for directions/parking