Loyola University Chicago

Department of History


Dr. David Dennis Marks Beethoven's 250th Birthday with Virtual Exhibition

Dr. David Dennis collaborated with the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose University on a new virtual exhibition commemorating the 250th anniversary of the birth of famed composer Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven Beyond Borders: Anniversary Celebrations, Politics, and Global Impact Since 1870 examines Beethoven and his impact on global culture during previous anniversaries from 1870 to 2020. It describes the historical contexts that influenced the celebrations from Germany’s unification in the nineteenth century through the First World War and Weimar eras, the Cold War, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Dennis was the historian for the exhibition, which was inspired by his first book Beethoven in German Politics, 1870-1989. He served as the narrator by creating embedded videos that introduce the exhibition and provide the historical context for each of the four period rooms. This exhibition shows that Beethoven became a universally relevant Everyman through the years and celebrations, as whole eras connected with him and his powerful music. Dr. Dennis hopes that visitors still recognize that Beethoven was a real person who, through self-revelation, created works that can help everyone share and even cope with life’s difficulties.

This was originally planned to be a traditional physical exhibition, but because of pandemic restrictions, the curation team decided to switch to a virtual format. The exhibition contains artifacts and images from the collections from the Ira F. Brilliant Center and some added by Dr. Dennis. While browsing the exhibition, visitors can listen to musical selections from Beethoven’s compositions, the various eras explored in the exhibition, as well as examples of his influences on music to our time. Housed in its own virtual museum, Beethoven Beyond Borders allows visitors to visit from the comfort of their devices whenever they wish. As an example of what can be done with electronic platforms, it is relevant to anyone working to increase historical awareness among wider audiences.

To learn more about the exhibition, including the software and its use, watch this video of the launch event for the exhibition from the Ira F. Brilliant Center. Click here to go to the Ira F. Brilliant Center’s website to learn more about the exhibition and how to access it.