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Anton Reicha the World of Contemporary Music invented in 1803
Papa Haydn gives birth to Modern Contemporary Music in 1803
Reicha was a friend of Beethoven since 1790s, when he too was living in Bonn and was in contact with the Bonn Connection (see The Bugler, July 2016).
      In the same period, Reicha made the acquaintance of Papa Haydn, who, on his London Tour, managed to stay in Bonn for a while, in order to accept Beethoven as his own pupil.
      The impression of this old man, who had invented the very language of the Classical Style, of the Strings Quartet and of the Symphony, left an enduring mark on young Reicha and certainly stayed in front of him as a living example that Music can really be invented and revolutionized.
      It is a fact that, when in 1803 Reicha finally published, in Vienna, his revolutionary work Trente six fugues pour le pianoforte, composées d'après un nouveau système, Reicha's first thought was to Papa Haydn, to whom Reicha had dedicated his work with a bilingual dedicatory poem.
      And so Haydn, who had personally chosen Beethoven, the Great Mogul, in Bonn for keeping the Viennese music school alive, became in 1803 the witness of the invention of what today we could well call the Modern Contemporary Music: polyrhythm, polytonality, microtonal music, radical chromatic treatment, fragmentation of the themes, use of all keys within the same piece, cadences on every degree of the scale, use of multiple subjects in a fugue, bizarre multi-staves arrangement of music, use of multi-clefs systems and, above all, the written manual to the performer with the instructions on how to use his music correctly... what a 20th century typical modernly conceived instrument for a poor 1800s performer!

Studying in Vienna
      Due to the Napoleonic Wars Reicha had, in the end, to leave Bonn for Paris, where in 1799 wrote his first 12 revolutionary fugues, a first group of radically conceived new pieces, which then formed the final corpus of the 36 Fugues Op. 36 1803 with the other 24 fugues.
      Left Paris, he reached Vienna, where he studied with Albrechtsberger (famous theorist and author of music treatises, friend of Mozart and teacher of Beethoven) and with Salieri, then an obliged choice, especially for all those who had interest in writing for the Opera Theatre and wanted to master the art the Italian language vocality (even Beethoven studied for some time vocal treatment with Salieri, even though his opera studies with Salieri ended in the disaster of Leonora/Fidelio and in an enraged Beethoven with Salieri). And Reicha had interest in Opera Theatre, since in 1800s he was trying to promote his Operas L'ouragan and Argine, regina di Granata.

Teacher of Franz Liszt and professor in Paris
        Reicha's studies with Salieri ended in the same way as Beethoven: all his opera productions failed,... despite the name Salieri was involved in his projects. However, his reputation as important theorist grew considerably across Europe and a few of his many treatises on music became common standard texts on composition in Music Schools and especially at the Conservatoire in Paris, even though Cherubini disliked him and his most radical theories.
      Reicha became, in the end, professor of composition (mainly counterpoint and fugue) at the Conservatoire in Paris and in 1826 Franz Liszt, Hector Berlioz and Henri Cohen became his pupils and then Charles Gounod, Pauline Viardot and César Franck did the same.

A radical experimentation still modern
      While his treatises created a new generation of important composers, his most radical ideas and experiments remained substantially an un-explored territory in the 19th century, with, probably, the exception of certain works and compositions by F. Liszt.
      However, the radicalism of Reicha's 1803 modern concept of Music Treatment can be still considered, today, really modern and radical, probably, under a certain point of view, even more than the Bachianas Brasileiras and the Choros by Villa-Lobos.
A. Reicha, 36 Fugues Op. 36:

36 Fugues Op. 36 (
12 Fugues 1799 (

Fugue No. 1 Allegro
Fugue No. 2 Allegro
Fugue No. 3 Molto moderato (theme by Haydn)
Fugue No. 4 Allegro moderato
Fugue No. 5 Allegretto (theme by Bach)
Fugue No. 6 Allegro moderato
Fugue No. 7 Allegro (theme by Mozart)
Fugue No. 8 Allegretto, subtitled Cercle harmonique
Fugue No. 9 Allegro moderato (theme by Scarlatti)
Fugue No. 10 Allegro maestoso
Fugue No. 11 Allegro moderato
Fugue No. 12 Allegretto
Fugue No. 13 Allegro moderato
Fugue No. 14 Ferme et avec majesté-Presto, subtitled Fuga-fantasia (theme by Frescobaldi)
Fugue No. 15 Adagio – six subjects (one of them by Handel)
Fugue No. 16 Andante un poco allegretto
Fugue No. 17 Allegro
Fugue No. 18 Adagio
Fugue No. 19 Allegro
Fugue No. 20 Allegretto
Fugue No. 21 Allegro
Fugue No. 22 Allegretto
Fugue No. 23 Allegro
Fugue No. 24 Allegro moderato
Fugue No. 25 Allegro
Fugue No. 26 Allegro
Fugue No. 27 Introduction & Fuga - Allegro
Fugue No. 28 Allegro
Fugue No. 29 Allegro moderato
Fugue No. 30 Allegro moderato
Fugue No. 31 Allegro moderato
Fugue No. 32 Poco lento
Fugue No. 33 Allegro
Fugue No. 34 Un poco presto
Fugue No. 35 Allegro
Fugue No. 36 Allegro moderato


Tiny Wirtz, Piano
Reicha 36 Fugues Op. 36 - World Premiere Recording - CPO Records
S. & L.M. Jennarelli