Beethoven sparked this modern logo for his 250th anniversary in 2020 | BTHVN2020 | DW | 12.07.2016
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Beethoven sparked this modern logo for his 250th anniversary in 2020

Beethoven couldn't have known how trendy short words would be in the Twitter age, but his signature was already hashtag-compatible: "Bthvn" inspired the logo for the composer's upcoming 250th birthday celebrations.

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Beethoven's new logo

Among famous composers, Ludwig van Beethoven is the superstar. His music is played more often than that of any other classical composer - with the Ninth Symphony at the top of the list.

We can expect to hear his name and music even more often in 2020, when the world celebrates the 250th anniversary of his birth. Plans for the celebratory year are already underway - especially in Bonn, where the composer was born in 1770.

"Beethoven is alive. His music binds people together because it is played and loved all over the world," declared Culture Minister Monika Grütters, invited to present the logo and website for the Beethoven 2020 program on Tuesday (12.07.2016) in Berlin, at the consular representation of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

"The Beethoven 2020 anniversary will certainly generate exceptional musical events that will reach beyond cultural borders," Grütters added.

Other guests at the presentation were Malte Boecker, director of the Beethoven House in Bonn; Christian Kampmann, culture minister of North Rhine-Westphalia; Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, mayor of Bonn and Nike Wagner, director of the Beethovenfest Bonn.

Ludwig van Beethoven Signature Bthven, Copyright: Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung H.C. Bodmer

The signature "Bthvn" can be recognized on this composition from 1809

A modern logo for a radical artist

The absence of vowels in the logo, BTHVN2020, gives a modern twist to the composer's famous name. "Beethoven is a brand. We found it important to give him a proper modern image," said Uwe Hecker, managing director of the agency Jung von Matt/brand identity.

As trendy as the idea appears, it actually comes from the composer himself: That's the way he signed some of his works, shortening his name to Bthvn. "We thank BTHVN for this idea," added Hecker.

"It was a way for Beethoven to spare work, because he didn't always want to write his name and he had noticed that this was enough," explained Malte Boecker in an interview with DW.

As a media partner of the event, DW presented a video on the creation of the logo for the 250th anniversary celebrations. The logo was tested throughout the world: From China to Poland, everyone could easily decipher the composer's name without the vowels.

The logo stands for "the creator of extraordinary music as well as the radical artist and creative visionary," said communication expert Helmut Andreas Hartwig, a mentor and contributor of the project.

Portrait of Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa

Joseph Karl Stieler's portrait of Beethoven is one of the most famous representations of the radical composer

The famous Beethoven portrait painted by Joseph Karl Stieler appears behind the capitalized letters. According to the designers, this painting contributes to the Beethoven myth like no other representation of his personality and appearance.

With its "liquid logo" format, the logo can also be used with different background pictures, creating a variety of designs while keeping a consistent brand.

Invitation to participate

The Beethoven anniversary year will officially launch on December 16, 2019 and will continue until December 17, 2020 - marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's baptism (the exact birth date is unknown).

Beethoven's birthplace in Bonn, Copyright: dpa - Bildfunk

Beethoven was born in this house in Bonn. It is now a museum and houses the largest collection of the composer's documents

A focus will be given to Beethoven's time in Bonn, where he lived before moving to Vienna at age 21. Projects will explore how Cologne and Bonn influenced him as an artist.

"He was not only born in Bonn, he also gave his first concert in Cologne at the age of seven," said Christina Kampmann, Culture Minister from North-Rhine Westphalia.

The celebrations will also provide an opportunity to revisit Beethoven's radical vision. Beyond renewing music through his works, he also held strong political and socially critical views. His ideals will also be at the heart of the cultural program.

"The ideas he transmitted through music are more important today than ever. We need to pursue the ideals of freedom and brotherhood more than ever before, and Beethoven transmitted these in a universal language," German Culture Minister Monika Grütters explained to DW.

Another main topic on the agenda is the future of classical music.

The website will provide information on the preparations. It is also a platform where everyone can join in with ideas.

As initiator of the program, the Beethoven House in Bonn hopes that the invitation will be broadly heard: "Beethoven belongs to nobody and everybody. That's why we do not want to prescribe a specific image for Beethoven in 2020, but revisit him through multiple perspectives," says Malte Boecker. "We are looking forward to fruitful, creative ideas, exciting projects and innovative approaches to Beethoven as a free spirit and pioneer of modern music."

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