13 January 2020

Visionary, humanist, citizen of the world – Be inspired by Beethoven

By Matthias Schultze, German Convention Bureau

One of the greatest composers in the world is celebrating his 250th birthday this year: Ludwig van Beethoven. As varied as his oeuvre is, particularly the character and radiance of his last completed symphony - the 9th - can still inspire us today to overcome boundaries and explore new paths.

Innovative formats instead of „business as usual”

200 years ago, Beethoven was an important source of inspiration: combining a symphony with a chorale? Why not, he seemed to think, creating something unprecedented that would influence generations of composers: the choral symphony. The famous text for the symphony had been written by Beethoven's contemporary Friedrich Schiller in his poem “Ode to joy” some 40 years earlier. In the world of conferences, congresses and business events, too, we must constantly evolve and innovate. Today, the purpose of an event – be it knowledge transfer or networking - can no longer be achieved with pure frontal lecture and "business as usual". The ideal participant experience requires creativity. In addition, there are megatrends such as digitalisation or sustainability, which call for smart ideas and innovative formats.

Overcoming borders

Beethoven's 9th symphony not only shaped a new form of composition, but over the course of time has also functioned on numerous occasions as a musical symbol of community - in Germany, but also on a European and international level.

For example, during the division of Germany, athletes from the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) competed as an all-German team at the Olympic Games from 1956 to 1964. In the absence of a common anthem, they used the "Ode to Joy" for this purpose. Almost three decades later, the 9th Symphony was also played during the final state ceremony of the GDR on the eve of German reunification in Berlin.

For the community of European states, "the Ninth" also has outstanding significance: as early as the 1970s, the Council of Europe declared the main theme of the last movement to be its anthem, and in 1985 it was finally designated the official European anthem.

Today, Beethoven’s last completed symphony is performed by orchestras around the globe on special occasions such as New Year's Day and can probably be considered to be one of the central leitmotifs for peace and international understanding.

Events connect

Conferences, congresses and business events are platforms for the exchange of experiences and ideas. They can - in the spirit of the "Ode to Joy" - overcome boundaries and connect people. However, not every new idea has to be "the next big thing" and perfectly matured immediately. Prototyping, readjusting and improving are also promising paths to innovation. The decisive factor is to set out on a journey and to have the courage to compose a choral symphony even though everyone might expect a purely orchestral piece.

On this note: Let us look forward to an inspiring and musical Beethoven Year 2020, in which together we will overcome borders.

For those who want to learn more: the German National Tourist Board (DZT) is launching a worldwide theme campaign to mark Beethoven’s anniversary in 2020: „Discover Beethoven“.