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Beethoven: A Guide to Primary and Secondary Resources at the Library of Congress


Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. Main Reading Room. Portrait statue of Beethoven along the balustrade. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. 2007. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Beethoven's presence extends throughout the Library of Congress. His bronze statue in the Main Reading Room is one of 16 chosen by the Thomas Jefferson Building's designers to pay homage to men whose lives symbolized the eight characteristic features of civilized life and thought: religion, commerce, history, art, philosophy, poetry, law, and science. Beethoven was the only composer chosen. Visitors may best view the statue from the Main Reading Room overlook on the building's second floor.

The Music Division itself holds a great deal of Beethoven iconography, including portraits, paintings, prints, photogravures, lithographs, etchings, photographs, sculpture, death masks, and reproductions from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These materials live in a variety of collections, but you can find many of the items in the Rebekah Crawford Collection (ML87.C93). The collection does not have an online finding aid; contact us through Ask-A-Librarian for more information.

One of the most important pieces of iconography in the Music Division is a painting by Johann Christoph Heckel of Beethoven at age 45. Painted in 1815, the original painting currently hangs in the Whittall Pavilion in the Jefferson building. To view the painting in person, check the Library's Events page for the Whittall Pavilion Open House series, or attend a pre-concert talk as part of the Concerts from the Library of Congress series.

Other relevant unique items in the Music Division's collections include:

Search for additional iconography using the Library's Finding Aids Tool, which searches across multiple finding aids, searching the Library of Congress Online Catalog, or by browsing the Music Division's list of Special Collections. Search the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog for additional images.