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Ludwig van Beethoven, Brief an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, Wien, etwa 18. Dezember 1802, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung H. C. Bodmer, HCB Br 58

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The letter was probably enclosed with the autograph engraver's models for the Variations opp. 34 and 35. Beethoven refers to a fugue cycle by Anton Reicha, to which the latter had added in French "composed following a new system" in the title. Beethoven rejected Reicha's fugues and was particularly upset by his claim that they had been composed following a "nouvelle Méthode", which according to Beethoven would only lead to "the fugue no longer being a fugue". In order to distance himself from this new trend and to highlight his own originality (which he really considered to be "modern"), Beethoven sent the publishers the exact words for the preface which he wanted in the original edition of the variations. In it he particularly stresses that these are the first variations which he has considered worthy of bearing an opus number.
However, a corresponding text was not to be found in the original editions published by Breitkopf & Härtel.

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