In 1884, a German American Choir Society donated the Beethoven monument to the Park. The Park’s administrators accepted the gift in part because there were several monuments to poets and scientists in the Park but no musicians. The monument is one of several proposed and donated by groups of European immigrants who sought to see themselves represented in the City’s premier public space, to signal their inclusion in American life.
The location of the Beethoven monument is connected to the long history of music on the Mall. Soon after the Park opened, free concerts were presented on Saturdays with musicians performing from a small ornate bandstand. Concert attendees sat on the grass or nearby benches, or overlooked the scene from the wisteria pergola. The Naumburg Bandshell was constructed in 1923 to accommodate larger audiences and still holds concerts today. Additional performances take place at Rumsey Playfield, which hosts a summer concert program known as SummerStage.