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                      Antoine Reicha 250th Anniversary

     Reicha: From Bach's fugues & mathematics to the visionary creation
                of contemporary music foundations in 1799/1803

                                    10 Questions with
                              international pianist Ivan Ilić
         author of the Chandos Records Series Reicha Rediscovered


              Chandos/Ivan Ilić's film Reicha Rediscovered (2017)

Episode 1: Introduction                      Episode 2: Bonn 

Episode 3: Hamburg                          Episode 4: Vienna 


(a) When did your passion for Reicha's music begin? When did you think for the first time to create this exclusive and organic CD Series on Reicha's piano music, Reicha Rediscovered (Chandos)? How did you conceive and develop the whole project?

(b) Can you tell us about the life of Reicha as artist and composer, but seen mainly through his piano works, especially those presented in your CD Series Vol. 1 & Vol. 2?

I became aware of Reicha's 36 Fugues during my studies at university, twenty years ago. They are kind of famous among musicology geeks,...

... because they combine the language of late 18th century Vienna with an experimental approach akin to that of many early 20th century composers, which is truly a unique combination.

Fugue no. 20 is a good example: it is entirely in 5/8 time, which was extremely unusual. But to me these fugues were curiosities of music history, not pieces I seriously considered studying alongside Beethoven Sonatas and Chopin Etudes.

I only began learning and performing them years later, around 2014.

When I examined them closely, I couldn't believe no one was playing them. When I was in college, I was too inexperienced to take the full measure of his achievement. His musical personality is authoritative, but also fun. Some works are obsessed with meticulous counterpoint, whereas others break all the rules of conventional fugue writing...

... But there are also substantial Sonatas, virtuosic Theme and Variations, and disarmingly charming Preludes reminiscent of Händel and JS Bach.

As I began to perform the Opus 36 Fugues, audiences reacted warmly. After the concerts, at CD signings, audience members always talked about the Reicha and what a wonderful discovery it was. So I began to play them more often. Whenever I could, I would slip the fugues into my concert programmes. The pieces are accessible, and include a wide range of affects lyrical, theatrical, dramatic... And practically speaking, they fit well next to Beethoven's and Haydn's works.

The origin of the CD series was actually a radio series I co-produced with Swiss Radio RTS Espace 2 about Reicha's solo piano music. This led to the radio supporting the recording of Volume 1 at their gorgeous concert hall, the Studio Ansermet in Geneva. Discussions with Chandos Records to release the recording led to the idea of doing a series, since that is their signature approach to repertoire. Although I wasn't originally planning to do several CD's of Reicha, I realized that it could be worthwhile. By coincidence, the Palazzetto Bru Zane Foundation in Venice was planning a Reicha Festival and they invited me to participate, which led to their support of Volume 1. So everything came together naturally.

The final piece of the puzzle is the tireless work by French music publisher Editions Symétrie, and their Reicha specialist Michael Bulley, who are in the process of preparing new editions of Reicha's piano music. This allowed me to prepare works which were previously only available in manuscript.

So I knew that Reicha had written much more piano music that had never been recorded, but I didn't know how much of it was worthwhile. However, I guessed that the Opus 36 Fugues, two hours of extraordinary music, could not have been a fluke. So we launched into the series with confidence, and that has been rewarded many times over.

Ivan Ilić performs Antoine Reicha's Fugue no 32 [live] 



(b) Can you tell us about the life of Reicha as artist and composer, but seen mainly through his piano works, especially those presented in your CD Series Vol. 1 & Vol. 2?

                    Life and Works of Antoine Reicha with Ivan Ilić
Reicha had an important historical role in music, as he brought the tradition of Viennese instrumental writing to the Paris Conservatory.

You could think of him as the direct link between Haydn and Reicha's Parisian students, which included Liszt, Franck, Berlioz and many others.

I emphasize this because it's important to understand when he was alive and who he knew, in order to understand how his pieces fit into the core repertoire.

He grew up near Prague, and his music teacher was his uncle Josef Reicha (1746-1795), a musician much appreciated by Leopold Mozart himself and by Michael Haydn, the brother of Joseph.


Then Reicha moved to Bonn when he was 15, where he met and befriended Beethoven. There Reicha and Beethoven started studying J.S. Bach's works and composition, under the Bonn composer Neefe. The two friends studied at the University together and had similar interests and ambitions, with Reicha attending, in particular, also the lectures in mathematics, beside those in Kantian philosophy. But whereas Beethoven was what we would call a networker today, making friends with wealthy aristocratic patrons, Reicha was a loner, and made his living teaching throughout his life.

From his autobiography we have learned that he was bitterly disappointed by failures early in his career, and resigned himself to quietly making a living, composing as much as possible, and leaving it to future generations to decide if what he composed was worthwhile. He spent time in Hamburg, Leipzig, Paris, and Vienna, before settling permanently in Paris at the age of 38 and becoming one of the most sought-after music teachers in France.

In terms of his piano music, it's possible to split Reicha's production into three periods:
  • Hamburg (1794-1799)
  • Vienna (1802-1808)
  • Paris (1808-1836)

In Hamburg he wrote his first treatise on composition and many short, experimental pieces. In Vienna he wrote big, ambitious works including sonatas and theme and variations, in addition to string quartets and symphonies and the revolutionary series of fugues Op. 36 dedicated to J. Haydn (ca. 1803/1805; a first shorter version, which belonged to the Hamburg period 1797/1799, was dedicated to Mehul, Cherubini, Gossec, Le Sueur, Martini). In Paris he became a respected professor of counterpoint, and wrote an extraordinary set of 34 Preludes and Fugues (which he called Etudes dans le genre fugué, Opus 97), which are more conventional but sparkle with wit and craftsmanship. During the Paris period he published his fundamental works on musical theory, which inspired an entire generation of new composers: five famous treatises on the arts and techniques of musical composition (1814-1833).

All told there is something like 15 hours of music, which is a tremendous amount considering that Reicha was not a piano virtuoso and that he was writing operas and works for many other instrumental combinations all the while. Determining the pieces' chronology is tricky, which frustrates our ability to understand his artistic development. For example, there are early works he only published decades later. With works that were not published during his lifetime, establishing when they were written can prove to be difficult, sometimes impossible.

      Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 1
In terms of my CD series with Chandos, Volume 1 presents two Sonatas from the Viennese period, and an array of works likely written in Hamburg. For those that are familiar with the Piano Sonatas of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, you owe it to yourself to listen to Reicha's Sonatas too, just as you should listen to Dussek, Clementi, Hummel, Wölfl and others. Remember Beethoven was interested in these works, and was familiar with them. Can you really be confident that there is nothing of interest there?

The other works were originally written as musical examples for a textbook, and they are some of the most surprising works from the period I have encountered. I made a video of one of them, Capriccio. The others include a 4-minute Fantasy on 3 notes, and a 9-minute Theme and Variations, Harmonie, which is unbelievably rich and dense, and should be studied by piano students everywhere.

Ivan Ilić performs Antoine Reicha's Capriccio 


      Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 2
Volume 2 presents the first 13 pairs of Preludes and Fugues from the book of 34 written in Paris. The preludes range between character pieces reminiscent of Schumann to hymns in the style of Händel. The fugues are tricky little pieces, which give both your brain and your fingers a workout...

...Ironically, the score for the pieces in Volume 2 has been accessible for free via IMSLP for years, and no one was interested. Once my recording was available, the very first piece was streamed more than 1 million times on Apple Music!!!...

...It makes you wonder how much more music is waiting to be discovered.

Ivan Ilić plays Antoine Reicha's Etude no 1 

                                      IVAN ILIĆ'S
                                 CHANDOS SERIES
                             REICHA REDISCOVERED

  • Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 3: L'Art de Varier (coming soon)
  • Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 2
  • Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 1


Ivan Ilić's complete Discography:
at Chandos
at PrestoMusic
at AllMusic
at Magnatune

RTS Espace 2 Podcasts
Ivan Ilić's Classical Music instalments for the Swiss Radio RTS Espace 2, which are downloadable as podcasts (.mp3, ca. 30); see, in particular, the series on the art of piano of Beethoven and Haydn:
Ivan Ilić's Classical Music podcast series


Ivan Ilić performs Reicha: Etude Opus 97 no 8 in G major (Fugue)

Ivan Ilić performs Reicha: Etude Opus 97 no. 11a
(a) The year 2020 is the 250th Anniversary of the birth of both Beethoven and Reicha (1770), two friends and really two revolutionary figures in music composition and both also linked to Haydn and Albrechtsberger. For someone, Reicha can and must be considered even the very first act, de facto, of Contemporary Music and, in particular, thanks to his fundamental piano production of the beginning of the 19th century: do you agree with this interpretation? What's your technical and artistic vision of Reicha and of his music and of his pianism in the then context of an important piano production by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven? What are the similarities? What the differences?

(b) You will soon publish the 3rd CD of your Series Reicha Rediscovered (Chandos). In this Album you'll present Reicha's Opus 57, L'Art de varier: what the position and the importance of this work in Reicha's music production? Do you think Reicha's Opus 57 is somehow a crucial work? Why?
A book could be – and should be – written about this subject!

Reicha wrote his most experimental compositions when he was in his twenties. In this early period he seems to have anticipated many of the concerns of 20th century composers, be it with asymmetric meters, imagining new abstract combinations of harmonies, or the use of quarter tones. If someone as iconic as Beethoven had done any of these things, they would be in every single music history textbook. But today awareness of Reicha's maverick streak is limited to a handful of specialists.

In his middle period his works point more towards Romanticism. His L'Art de Varier, a 90-minute set of 57 variations on an original theme, has variations which sound just like Schumann, Liszt, and Alkan, although none of these composers was born when it was written (in 1803). When he moved to Paris and became professor of counterpoint at the Paris Conservatory, his compositional style became more conservative, perhaps more didactic.

So he doesn't fit the mold of the way a composer is supposed to evolve, and it's hard to know how to weigh the importance of these distinct styles within his output. Some historians, who are only interested in who does things first, are only interested in his 1st period, and perhaps certain elements of his 2nd period. And there are musicians who regularly perform pieces from his 3rd period who are completely unaware that the experimental music exists.

What I am trying to articulate is that in order for a composer to have a place in music history, we need to understand how they fit in with the other composers we already know. And I think the answer with Reicha is that today, in June 2020, it is too early to know. We are far from reaching a consensus because...

there are still many works which are in manuscript, and haven't been played, or others which are published but only have 2nd-rate recordings, which may do more harm than good...

What seems clear to me is that Reicha deserves a place alongside Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, in terms of both the size and ambition of his solo piano writing.

Beyond that, it really depends on the intellectual curiosity of who you're speaking with. Even in Haydn's output for piano, you hear the same 5% of the works, to the detriment of the rest. For example, if you glance at the complete list of Haydn's works, there is a Capriccio in G major which is rarely performed, but which is more inspired than many of his sonatas. Often, people don't want to decide for themselves, they prefer to trust an expert's judgement about which works are the best.

Zoltan Kocsis performs Haydn's Capriccio for keyboard in G major  

There is one lucky aspect of programming Reicha side by side with Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven historically there is a strong link, but there is enough contrast to hold the interest. Reicha wrote a few big sonatas reminiscent of Beethoven, a few Haydnesque smaller ones, but the Opus 36 fugues sound like nothing either wrote, nor do the larger variations pieces. Reicha wrote that he perceived Mozart and Haydn to be the pinnacle of instrumental music, but that doesn't mean he imitated them. I find that when we hear their works side by side, we learn more about Reicha, but we also learn more about the more famous composers, because we can understand more clearly what they didn't choose to do, and the wide array of possibilities they had before them.


(b) You will soon publish the 3rd CD of your Series Reicha Rediscovered (Chandos). In this Album you'll present Reicha's Opus 57 L'Art de varier: what the position and the importance of this work in Reicha's music production? Do you think Reicha's Opus 57 is somehow a crucial work? Why?

Along with the Opus 36 Fugues, the Opus 97 Etudes, the Opus 102 Variations, and the experimental works I mentioned earlier, the Opus 57 Variations are among Reicha's indisputable masterpieces for solo piano. I was not initially planning on including them in my CD series for Chandos. Although I had the score, I couldn't make sense of it. But with the big 250th anniversary year looming it made sense to do something monumental, so we went ahead.

It's important to keep in mind that when the piece was written, in 1803-04, it was by far the longest composition for solo piano after J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations. So it has a unique place not just in Reicha's opus but in music history. It predates Beethoven's Diabelli Variations by a good 15 years, and once you've heard Reicha's L'Art de Varier, the Diabelli Variations sound compact in comparison. Beethoven and Reicha's friendship seems to have morphed into a rivalry during this period (1802-1808), and scholars have begun to find correspondences among the works they were writing, especially the string quartets and symphonies. A detailed comparison between the Diabelli Variations and L'Art de Varier would undoubtedly shed light on both works, but I don't plan to be the one to do it.

Reicha seems to have had an obsession with self-improvement, and this may explain part of the motivation behind the way he composed L'Art de Varier. He wrote in his autobiography that he was at his best when he gave himself a compositional challenge, especially limitations which forced his imagination to invent solutions. This piece is the epitome of his ability to produce a cornucopia of variety out of small musical building blocks. What surprised me most, in contrast to other works of his that I have played, is the extreme, sometimes impractical technical demands. The frantic jumps spanning the entire keyboard, the thick chordal textures at breakneck speeds, the broken octaves, much of it is reminiscent Franz Liszt, who only studied with him twenty years later. Above all, it's the piece's relentless intensity. He was clearly not thinking about pacing the work to give the performer a break once in a while.

From a stylistic perspective, it's difficult to know how to approach L'Art de Varier, because as you're playing it you are reminded of music which was written 40-50 years later. Also, he was not a composer who actively performed his works in public. His approach to composition is closer to what many composers do today in the absence of a commission, or a specific situation or performer, the composer composes for themselves, and doesn't have practicality in mind. I sometimes wonder if Reicha really imagined someone to perform a 90-minute solo piano work in public It seems unlikely. Even today, it is a difficult piece to programme.

Surprisingly, my experience researching and performing Morton Feldman's music has been helpful. Learning how to pace a single 90-minute piece is utterly different from playing a 20-minute sonata, or even a 75-minute programme of varied works. In such a huge work, you have to patiently let events unfold, and trust that they will fall into place. The structure reveals itself in retrospect.
In August 2019 you published a magnificent, very special and unique CD Album, dedicated to Haydn Symphonies transcribed for piano by the German singer, conductor and composer Carl David Stegmann (1751-1826). It may sound incredible, but also this CD has a strong Bonn Music Circle background (like the friendship Beethoven-Reicha-Haydn in the 1790s), with Stegmann and the publisher Simrock all strictly linked to Bonn and Beethoven and with a common interest in Haydn! Moreover the very discovery of this series of Haydn-Stegmann's works by you was particularly amazing: can you tell us the story? How did you choose then the 3 works (92, 75, 44) for this recording? What your experience of the audience enthusiasm in listening to your public performance of this Series of Haydn's Symphonies transcriptions by Stegmann?
The transcriptions came to me as the result of an improbable sequence of events. A friend of mine, Veronika, moved to Cologne for work. She knew no one there, and one day, at the supermarket, she struck up a conversation with a woman in the vegetable aisle. They later met for drinks and became friends. Soon afterwards, the woman said that she had a present for Veronika, and drove to Veronika's office to drop it off.

Upon her arrival, Veronika's new friend unloaded two boxes, full of scores. She explained that she used to help an elderly neighbor carry her groceries. When she passed away, in her 100s, the woman left her younger neighbor a surprise. But Veronika's friend couldn't read music and was at a loss over what to do with the gift.

A few days later, in December 2015, Veronika called me and told me the story. She invited me to visit and dig through the scores, to see if there might be something worthwhile. I was skeptical, but we had not seen each other for some time. So six weeks later I traveled to Cologne.

The boxes had not been opened for decades, and they were full of thick, black dust. I'll never forget having to wash my hands three times in a row after sifting through the scores, unable to get my hands clean. The collection was more eclectic than I had expected. The elderly woman – Anny Gries – had studied piano at Cologne's Hochschule für Musik, but gave up a career in music when she met her future husband, who needed help with his family's pastry business. Still, Anny continued playing and bought a wide variety of scores, including contemporary music, Kölsche Lieder, and transcriptions.

When I noticed the transcriptions for solo piano of symphonies by Haydn, my interest was piqued. I knew Liszt's transcriptions of Beethoven's symphonies, but I was unaware of solo piano versions of any of Haydn's symphonies. Veronika and I took a selection of scores to a local piano store, where I tried them out.

One of them was Stegmann's transcription of Symphony No. 44. It sounded fantastic on the piano, despite my clumsy sight-reading. Two months later, I gave what was probably the first modern performance of that transcription, maybe even the first ever public performance. It was so well received that during the next eighteen months I played it often.

It's unlikely that the transcriptions were meant to be played as concert repertoire in public. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm I encountered wherever I have played them persuaded me to make the recording, to allow more people to hear Stegmann's wonderfully idiomatic arrangements.

I'm glad that you emphasize the Bonn connection between these projects, because if it wasn't for my Reicha research, I never would have found the scores for the other two symphonies I needed to make the recording (nos 92 and 75). I was at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn recording a documentary series about Reicha, and because I knew that Stegmann was living in Bonn when he made the arrangements, and that he was published by his friend Simrock, also in Bonn, that it was possible that they might have some of the other transcriptions, as they have a fantastic music library. To my delight, they immediately found 20 out of the 30 transcriptions in their collection...

...It was lucky for me, because this is by far the greatest collection of Haydn/Stegmann transcriptions in Europe, and locating them would have been so difficult otherwise that I probably never would have pursued the recording!...

Out of those 20, I picked 92 and 75 because they were the other two most successful on the piano besides number 44. By coincidence, that means that the CD includes one really famous Symphony (92) and another which is almost never performed or recorded (75), which was an unintentional bonus!

Ivan Ilić performs Haydn/Stegmann: PRESTO from Symphony No. 44 Trauer
You are a great admirer, promoter and interpreter of Reicha, a revolutionary and fundamental music composer and theorist: so, what's your relationship with modern and contemporary music/composers? What are your projects in this field? 

You have also a great interest in Multimedia & Cinema productions: what did you lead to work and produce this kind of projects (Radio Series, Website articles, Documentary Series on Reicha, 2 short films, etc.)? What's your activity as Ulster University's International Musician in Residence? What are your projects for the future?
The audience for modern and contemporary music is small, so it means I can only devote 15-20% of my time to it. But there are living composers who write music I feel an immediate connection to, and as a result I squeeze their pieces into programmes whenever I can. A few examples include Keeril Makan, Scott Wollschleger and, more recently, Melaine Dalibert. Most of what they write for piano attracts me, and I feel I can play well. But that kind of connection is rare.

Ivan Ilić plays: Music without Metaphor by Scott Wollschleger 

Another recent example is Hans Otte's The Book of Sounds, which I perform live from time to time. The piece, written in the 1980's, is about 70 minutes long, and learning it have a big effect on my musical life and outlook. Every time I play it live feels like a present I am giving to myself, like a big warm bath of sound. As you play it, it feels like you are playing the acoustic, not the piece.

Hans Otte : Le Livre des sons (Ivan Ilić) 

One of the reasons I began branching out into extra-musical activities is because when you play unusual music, curious audience members have so many questions: Who was the composer? Why are you playing this music? Why isn't this music more well-known? How did you find out about it? Sometimes the questions come from people who enjoy the music and want to learn more. Other times people want to learn something before giving the music a chance. Either way, this popularization of little-known music demands a combination of pedagogy and advocacy which allows me to develop a direct rapport with listeners.

A key influence is my relationship with Swiss Radio, RTS Espace 2. For several years now I have been invited to participate, then co-produce long in-depth radio documentaries, which has led, more recently, to a series of videos. In fact I am about to travel to Lausanne to record 4 or 5 more, at the end of June. It's a lot harder than it looks, because you have to combine playing and speaking, which is nerve-wracking, and find a way to present complex things in an accessible way which doesn't oversimplify the truth. For example, how does music console us?

Swiss Radio RTS Espace 2: Why do we enjoy listening to sad music? (with Ivan Ilić) 

In order for someone like Reicha to develop a place in the repertoire, and in people's minds, someone has to constantly campaign on his behalf, both behind the scenes and in public. And while I would love to just spend all my time at the piano, if I do that, only a tiny number of people will ever hear the music. Luckily, it feels doubly rewarding, because I know that I am honoring Reicha's remarkable musical legacy, and bringing worthwhile music to so many people who otherwise would never have heard it.

Writing texts is important because in 2020 people spend so much time reading, especially online...

More than ever, texts are an essential vector for sharing information...

... But increasingly I find that short videos are an even more effective way to share unfamiliar music. The documentary series I wrote about Reicha had a tremendous impact, bigger than I anticipated. And part of that was the fact that I had access to hundreds of pages of information about him, but the format forced me to distill what I thought was the most important. And the beautiful filming by Martin Teschner made people want to watch and learn more.

My residence at Ulster University is related to this kind of work, because I am trying to embody a certain approach to music, and to inspire the next generation. The students are brilliant and all use technology to learn and share their music-making.

When I was their age, I dreamed of narrowing my focus, whereas they already have such wide musical horizons.

I visit the school a few times a year, and in addition to masterclasses, concerts, and individual lessons I am working on ways to crystallize what I have learned into pedagogical shortcuts so they can skip some of the hard lessons I've learned over the years. For example, there are several famous manuals for piano technique from the 19th century, that most teachers assign to their pupils. But few teachers have designed specific, structured ways to practice them, which help students gradually progress, while keeping their minds engaged. So I ended up doing that for myself, and am now about to share documents and videos with the students. For those motivated enough to do the hard work, they will improve dramatically.

But I'm also hoping they will criticize the method I've designed, and improve upon it.

Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.
Some of Mozart's best piano writing is hidden in the Sonatas for Piano and Violin, and I enjoy listening to those.

As for Haydn, I love the pieces on the margins, like the pieces for mechanical clock, the combination of joy and ingenuity they demonstrate. As it happens, I listen to Haydn much more often than I listen to Mozart.

An extra-rare fully restored clock with organ built by George Pyke (1766): in the video, towards the end, you can hear the organ clock performing Der Wachtelschlag (i.e. Call of the Quail) written by Haydn for organ clock. 

With Haydn's compositions for mechanical clock, we see also a very peculiar phase of the development of the Art of Fugue (now applied to an automatic kind of interpretation), before the innovations introduced by Reicha in the period 1799/1803. And it is sure that this type of production by Haydn and Mozart somehow can be considered a forerunner of the modern digital treatment of the music...

It is a fact that Reicha's revolutionary Op. 36 fugues were dedicated to Joseph Haydn with a poem (see supra)!

And also Mozart's Violin Sonata K481 brings us towards the world of Mozart's Jupiter famous Fugue/Fugoid of the last movement and the world of Haydn's and von Dittersdorf's own symphonic Fugue Sonatas and Fugoids!
Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you'd like to see re-evaluated?
There are many, but one which comes to mind is Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer.

Fischer's organ and harpsichord collections, in particular his Ariadne musica Neo-Organoedum (1702), were a fundamental model for J.S. Bach. From them J.S. Bach derived many themes and models reused and developed in his Wohltemperierte Clavier.

And here is a shortcut to finding interesting music read any biography of a famous musician, and every time their path crosses a musician you haven't heard of, go straight to Wikipedia, YouTube, and IMSLP.

It's always fascinating what you can discover.
And certainly, as you have just demonstrated, with these compositions by Fischer we've gone back, so to say, to that very authentic origin of a certain tradition of the Art of Fugue, that, through J.S. Bach's great development, reached Reicha and his visionary masterly work of innovation!

Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you'd like to see performed in concert with more frequency.
Many works were written for Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1772-1806), including Reicha's L'Art de Varier, dedicated to the heroic soldier/composer.

He was an important musical patron and excellent amateur musician.

He also wrote several works which are well worthwhile, including Piano Quartets. I'd love to hear them live.

As you wrote in your Reicha Rediscovered Booklet No. 2:
«Like J.S. Bach, Reicha considered counterpoint to be the most noble, enduring style of composition».

We can complete, therefore, this parcours through the Art of Fugue from Fischer to Reicha with the score of the Fugue by Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, to whom Reicha had dedicated his L'Art de Varier, your next CD Album soon to appear in the Chandos Records Series Reicha Rediscovered.

Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?
Richard Taruskin's The Oxford History of Western Music (online Site: Link)changed the way I understand the connection between the Viennese symphony and the Italian opera overtures which preceded it. He was my music history professor in college, and I always find his viewpoint thought-provoking and well-documented.

Another more indirect source of information is that whenever I see old used copies of composer biographies, especially old ones here in France, I always buy them. There are always unexpected anecdotes you don't find online.
Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.
There is a wonderful YouTube channel called EuroArtsChannel which hosts a huge archive of video recorded performances.

One video which comes to mind is the Hagen String Quartet performing Mozart's K. 387.
You'll find works by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Bach, von Weber, Rossini, Meyerbeer, Pergolesi, Handel, Cimarosa, Schubert, Liszt, Boccherini, Cherubini, Vivaldi, Stravinsky and many others...

... and great interpreters: Barenboim, Argerich, Solti, Lars Vogt, Mullova, Hagen Quartet, Sandrine Piau, René Pape, Raimondi, Pavarotti...

Euroarts: Mozart/Hagen Quartet, String Quartet K.387 Spring 

Euroarts: Mozart, Ruth Ann Swenson in Martern aller Arten (Die Entführung aus dem Serail)
Do you think there's a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?
I recommend Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum, as they have a wonderful collection of instruments.

But just as important is to stroll the streets and contemplate the fact that Vienna's population used to be 200,000 which would have allowed Beethoven and Schubert to run into each other on the street, or in a cafe...

... Just imagining that, while in Vienna, is magical.
And it's sure that, if Beethoven and Schubert really did so, that will provide the scholarly discussion with a great amount of nourishment!

Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!
Thank you!