Open until Sun 24 Apr 2022
Book now Members go free

Idealist. Innovator. Icon.

★ ★ ★ ★ – The Times

★ ★ ★ ★ – The Telegraph

Against the backdrop of war and revolution raging in Europe and the United States, a young man grew up in Bonn inspired by the ideals of freedom, and went on to compose some of the greatest works of music ever written.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s work changed the course of music, but his journey wasn’t easy. He challenged conventions, battled the blank page and struggled with progressive hearing loss to become one of the most influential composers of all time.

See the mind of this creative genius at work through items belonging to the composer himself and manuscripts scrawled in his own distinctive hand. Discover how he blazed a trail as you pore over the frustrated scribbles and eureka moments in his sketchbook, his earliest known draft of a symphonic movement and surviving sketches of his much-loved Pastoral Symphony.

Explore the ideas that fuelled his greatest masterpiece, the Ninth Symphony. From notes documenting its commission by the Philharmonic Society in London to the full manuscript score in Beethoven’s own hand – displayed in the UK for the very first time.

You’ll also have a chance to meet the man behind the music by getting close to the personal belongings that shine a light on his everyday life. His tuning fork, a pocket notebook he used to jot down his ideas, and even a hand-scrawled laundry list are featured in this small exhibition.

At the end of your journey, reflect on your own relationship with Beethoven’s music today, found in film, comics and literature. Learn how the Ninth Symphony – and its choral section based on Friedrich Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy – became the soundtrack to political and social movements worldwide, played everywhere from the Tiananmen Square student protests to the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

Beethoven overcame great personal struggles to achieve musical triumph, and his music became a source of strength for others to overcome theirs. As Schiller, whom he revered so much, once wrote, ‘Pain is brief, joy is eternal.’

Ticket prices and concessions

Book your ticket in advance and save £2 (discount included in the prices below) . 

  On the door Advance booking
  Mon–Wed* Thu–Sun Mon–Wed* Thu–Sun
Full price £10 £10 £8 £8
Member Free Free Free Free
Senior (60+) £5 £10 £4 £8
Student £4 £8 £3 £6
Young person (18-25) £4 £8 £3 £6
Registered unemployed £4 £8 £3 £6
Disabled £4 £4 £3 £3
National Art Pass £5 £5 £5 £5
National Art Pass senior £4 £4 £4 £4
Child (0-11) Free Free Free Free
Child (12-17) £5 £5 £3 £3
Reciprocal entry (NDMC) Free Free Free Free

*Excludes bank holidays and school holidays.

Please note you may be asked for proof of concession on arrival.

Pre-booking your visit helps us manage our capacity and offer the best possible visitor experience by keeping you updated with information before your visit. We want as many people as possible to have the chance to see our exhibitions so, like many other museums and galleries, we’re offering discounts to those more able to visit outside of our most in-demand days, helping to increase our capacity during our busiest periods for those who can’t. 

Free carer tickets are available by contacting the Box Office on 01937 546546.

This exhibition features an installation with projected images which flash at a variety of frequencies and rates. This may potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy.

The exhibition is supported by the Brian Mitchell Charitable Settlement.


Name: Beethoven
Where: PACCAR 2
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Opening times and visitor information
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
Book now