Cellist Runs Church of Beethoven

Albuquerque arts devotees start secular Church of Beethoven in old gas station

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 16, 2008 6:35 PM CST

(Newser) – Congregants gather on Sundays at an old gas station in Albuquerque to greet friends, ponder the divine, and listen to classical music, NPR reports. Espresso-sipping members of the Church of Beethoven also listen to poetry readings and engage in group song, but don't need to have religious beliefs. Cellist Felix Wurman says he founded the church to help people "find spirituality through culture."

He named the church after Beethoven because the composer "poured all that spirituality that he couldn't find a place for in the traditional church, he poured it straight into his art." He hopes the church will stay small but inspire other houses of worship devoted to classical composers. "My goal is to disseminate all of this wonderful art," says Wurman, "because people don't know that much about it."

This is an undated sketch of German composer Ludwig van Beethoven.   (AP Photo)
Beethoven's original copy of his Symphony No. 8 , Opus 93, Third Movement, is photographed at the Jagiellonian Library, in Krakow, Poland.   (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
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Felix Wurman and   (ChurchofBeethoven)
Founder Felix Wurman explains the Church of Beethoven.   (ChurchofBeethoven)

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One of the things you do as a professional classical musician is play 'church jobs, and I always felt that this is so wonderful, all this music, the collection of people, this beautiful room. - church founder Felix Wurman

The first time I came, I heard about it from a friend who was reading poetry here, and we were just kind of blown away by what you can hear in a gas station in Albuquerque. - churchgoer Laura Motter

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