Is it a curse to be famous? 1

Actor: Cornelius Obonya on his famous family: "It is more of a blessing than a curse"

On the occasion of the Beethoven year 2020, ARD is showing an elaborately staged historical film about the composer (December 25th, 8:15 pm). You embody Johann, Ludwig van Beethoven's brother. How was the shooting?

Cornelius Obonya: That was actually wonderful filming. And I hope that Christmas will be a huge festival in front of the screen. The Beethoven year took a back seat due to the corona pandemic. But maybe we can add a little highlight at the end.

Do you have a special relationship with Beethoven? You also speak the Beethoven role in a podcast for Bayerischer Rundfunk.

Obonya: That's true and of course I like his music, even if it is so present on telephone lines and in elevators that you can ignore it. As an Austrian, I still perceive the battle between Beethoven and Mozart in the telephone queues. On the other hand, if you sit down at home and listen to Beethoven in peace, you can always hear something new, even with such a popular piece as “Für Elise”.

Beethoven struggled with his deafness

What can a story tell us about Beethoven today?

Obonya: Actually, it can only give a picture of what kind of person it is who composed this music and who was long afflicted with the severe handicap of deafness. Beethoven is mostly only known from the confectionery boxes or the postage stamp. In the film you experience that this man had a not so uninteresting family and learn that from his earliest child he was used to robots, so to speak, to have to function in order to support his family. Because his father had a massive alcohol problem and was a weak person. And out of this situation, out of this pain, Beethoven composed all the works.

What role did his brother Johann play in his life?

Obonya: Basically, the two brothers already appreciated each other. In the film, Johann comes across as a friendly person who invites his brother and lets him live with him. The brother was a war profiteer and clever economist in the wars of liberation. He was a pharmacist and quickly understood how to get money.

Ludwig repeatedly called the pharmacist a “unfraternal” brother.

Obonya: The fact that Ludwig insulted Johann in some letters may be due to the fact that Johann was able to do things that Ludwig could not do. He was a family man who could handle money better. He had a home, a place of retreat. Beethoven did not have any of that and that could have fueled the envy of the other. Beethoven's family are the works he gave to the world. But for that he had to suffer himself. The brother, on the other hand, was not a genius, and therefore also not a special person in this sense.

Would you have preferred to play the famous composer or was brother Johann interesting too?

Obonya: Brother Johann was also a challenge. Of course, I would play Ludwig anytime, should it ever happen. That was not possible with this line-up. But that didn't hurt me. It was important to me to be part of this project.

You said in the FAZ, “The best thing that can happen to us is that we actually manage to show younger people that this Beethoven was also once young”. What do you mean?

Obonya: Of course we also show a lot about the life of the young Beethoven. Hardly anyone knows that. But this is how you learn that someone as serious as Ludwig van Beethoven also had a childhood. Perhaps it can be used to build a bridge to young people so that they can get interested in this music. Beethoven's works consistently sound as if they were created by a very mature person. Beethoven composed at a young age. And it also shows that Beethoven was much more humorous as a child than is commonly thought.

Obonya's grandparents were theater stars

You yourself come from the great Hörbiger dynasty of actors. Her maternal grandparents are the castle actors Attila Hörbiger and Paula Wessely. Curse or blessing?

Obonya: I would say it's more of a blessing. In any case, it was never a curse. However, I did not allow many things to get close to me because I always wanted to go my own way. I had a carefree childhood, my parents gave me an education, so that was fine. When I started my career, I went my own way.

What are your memories of your grandparents?

Obonya: I can remember pretty much everything. They were people who were very strong in their own way - and that rubbed off on our whole family. Thank God. But for me it is always more memories of my grandparents, not of the Hörbiger-Wessely theater people.

Could you have even imagined a middle-class profession with this family background?

Obonya: Yes, of course, but it didn't happen that way. I just felt that I wanted to be an actor. It's a pull that hopefully never ends.

One more word about you in private. You once quoted Dieter Nuhr with the sentence: “You don't really dare to say it, but I'm happy. I'm allowed to have the most beautiful marriage in the world! ”Still true?

Obonya: This is true!

What Makes a Good Marriage?

Obonya: It has many secrets and ultimately everyone has to find them for themselves. But my wife and I found a good common level right from the start and, above all, communicate with each other continuously. I think that's the bottom line. It is also important never to lose interest in the other person's world.

To person: Cornelius Obonya, 51, is an Austrian actor. His maternal grandparents are the actors Attila Hörbiger and Paula Wessely. In addition to television and cinema roles, he played at the Burgtheater in Vienna and at the Salzburg Festival, among others.

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