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Fugue for 2 violins, viola and violoncello (B-flat major) op. 133

Listening samples
Overtura. Allegro - Meno mosso e moderato - Allegro - Fuga. [Allegro] - Meno mosso e moderato - Allegro molto e con brio - Allegro (365 kB)

Composition
Ca. May to December 1825
Dedicated to Rudolph Erzherzog von Österreich

On 21 March 1826 Beethoven's String Quartet in B-flat Major op. 130 was given its first performance, with a great fugue as the last movement. It was especially this final movement that proved difficult for his contemporaries to understand - too difficult as the publisher Mathias Artaria explained to the composer. Although the parts had already been prepared for printing, in September 1826 Artaria suggested that the fugue be 'removed', printed separately and replaced with a new final movement for op. 130. Beethoven agreed surprisingly quickly, and the new finale was composed in autumn 1826.
The fugue was published with the opus number 133. Beethoven had already given some thought to the wording the title, Grande fuge, tantôt libre, tantôt recherché, in December 1826 (he was already bedridden). Parallel to the original version for string quartet, Artaria also planned an arrangement for piano four-hands. The publisher believed that this would make the work more acceptable and better understood - and also improve sales. Beethoven agreed to this suggestion, too. Artaria commissioned the pianist Anton Halm to arrange the fugue as early as April 1826. However, the result did not please the composer at all. As a result Carl Czerny was considered as an arranger but then also discarded. Although Beethoven had at first strictly refused to do so, he finally decided to arrange the fugue himself. At the beginning of September he handed over his piano duet version of the Grosse Fuge to Karl Holz, to be passed on to the publisher. Enclosed with it was the canon Da ist das Werk, sorgt für das Geld (Here is the work, give me the money, WoO 197), underscoring the autonomous nature of this version.

Both the original string quartet version and the piano arrangement appeared at the same time in May 1827. (J.R.)

Music manuscripts
Skizzen, HCB Mh 101
Skizzen, NE 47a
Überprüfte Abschrift, op. 130 mit der großen Fuge op. 133 als Schlußsatz, Stimmen

First editions
Originalausgabe, op. 133, Partitur, Artaria, 876
Originalausgabe, op. 133, Stimmen, Artaria, 877
Originalausgabe, op. 133, Stimmen, Artaria, 877; Teilscan
Originalausgabe, op. 133, Stimmen, Artaria, 877; Teilscan
Originalausgabe, op. 134, Artaria, 878
Originalausgabe, op. 134, Artaria, 878; Teilscan
Originalausgabe, op. 134, Artaria, 878; Teilscan
Titelauflage, op. 133, Partitur, Artaria, 876; Teilscan
Frühdruck, op. 133, Stimmen, Schlesinger

Scores
Bibliographic data in library catalogue

Written documents
Vertrag zwischen Ludwig van Beethoven und Ignaz Pleyel, Wien, 24. Januar 1827

Pictures
Rudolph (1788-1831), Erzherzog von Österreich, seit 1819 Kardinal und Erzbischof von Olmütz - Anonymes Ölgemälde, vielleicht von Johann Baptist von Lampi, 1. Hälfte 19. Jahrhundert?
Rudolph (1788-1831), Erzherzog von Österreich, seit 1819 Kardinal und Erzbischof von Olmütz - Stich von Blasius Höfel nach einer Zeichnung von Adalbert Suchy, um 1820
Rudolph (1788-1831), Erzherzog von Österreich, seit 1819 Kardinal und Erzbischof von Olmütz - Portrait in Aquarell und Gouache von Friedrich Johann Gottlieb Lieder, Wien, um 1823, um 1823
Rudolph (1788-1831), Erzherzog von Österreich, seit 1819 Kardinal und Erzbischof von Olmütz - Anonyme Lithographie des 19. Jahrhunderts, Mitte 19. Jahrhundert?
Rudolph (1788-1831), Erzherzog von Österreich, seit 1819 Kardinal und Erzbischof von Olmütz - Fotografie eines Stichs von Blasius Höfel, Um 1920?

Literature
Bibliographic data in library catalogue

Manuscript sources in other libraries
Polen, Kraków: Biblioteka Jagiellonska

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E-Mail: bibliothek@beethoven-haus-bonn.de