Current Exhibitions

Beethoven in Heiligenstadt


April 8 - July 8, 2017

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

Accessible for the disabled

See visitor information for directions and parking.

The title of our exhibit conjures up images of coziness and comfort, of a place where Beethoven’s mind found peace and he allowed his creativity to soar. But was Beethoven ever really “at home?” After settling in Vienna in 1792, he moved nearly fifty times, not counting his travels and occasional stays with friends and family. Frequently dissatisfied with his apartments, he rarely stayed in one place for more than two years. Many times he kept lodgings in the city but escaped to the country in the summers in search of peace and quiet, and to restore his health. As with many artists of his time—and today—his main desire was to find a place where he could nurture his creative ideas without the troublesome distractions of domestic life.

This exhibit traces Beethoven’s pursuit of “home” in and around Vienna. We invite you to explore the exhibit through different paths:

Chronologically: Our exhibit map includes a chronological list of his homes and their location within the exhibit space. Trace Beethoven’s path as he abandoned and returned to place after place.

Regionally: We’ve organized the exhibit by region to highlight which areas of Vienna, and which villages outside of the city, he favored over others. The map of Vienna from 1802 (ten years after Beethoven moved there from Bonn) shows the houses where Beethoven lived in the inner city. The enlarged map of Vienna from 1824 in the large portrait cases on the left and right of the hall show Beethoven’s homes in the suburbs outside of the city’s fortifications (Bastei). As the city expanded, Beethoven often looked to the suburbs for a better domestic situation, but his final home was the Schwarzpanierhaus, located just at the edge of town.

Creatively: Placards throughout the exhibit identify where Beethoven lived when he composed some of his greatest works—the Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, the Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos, the Razumovsky Quartets, and many others. Follow the “Where Was Beethoven When?” list in the exhibit guide to find his location as he worked on specific compositions. Though his home situation was often unsettled, Beethoven established productive work habits that helped him transcend difficulties at home. The exhibit explores Beethoven’s workroom—his “home office”—and the creative process that resulted in musical masterpieces.

Since Beethoven’s time, many artists have been inspired to capture images of his homes in paintings and engravings. Some of the artworks on display are based on the buildings that still stand, while others are photographs or imagined renderings of those that no longer exist. We also invited students from SJSU’s School of Art and Design to create their own depictions of Beethoven@Home.

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

Special collections exhibit hall and Beethoven Center, Room 580

See also our online exhibits.


Guevara Lock of Beethoven's Hair

Lock of Beethoven's Hair

The "Guevara Lock of Beethoven's Hair," which has been on continuous display for the last twelve years, has been removed from the Center's exhibits for an indefinite period. Please stay tuned for updates on our hair exhibit page.