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Ludwig van Beethoven, Fidelio op. 72, 2. Fassung 1806, Marsch, Partitur, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung H. C. Bodmer, HCB Mh 1

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"No 5": as good as a date

Following the not very successful première of his opera Fidelio in November 1805, which was dropped from the programme after only three performances, Beethoven decided to revise it in December 1805. This second version was performed at the Theater an der Wien in March 1806. Only two autograph scores pertaining to the revision from 1806 survive. Both are held at the Beethoven-Haus. Alongside Beethoven's manuscript for Florestan's aria (BH 66), the autograph score for the march accompanying the entrance of the prison governor Pizzaro has also survived. Aside from a few corrections in red crayon the manuscript contains hardly any signs of having been revised. So how do we know to which of the three versions of the opera it belongs? There is only one single indication as to when it was composed. Beethoven wrote "No. 5" in red crayon in the middle of the first page at the top. As an introduction to the second act, the première version contained the introduction for orchestra WoO 2b. For the version from 1806 the initial first and second act were merged into one act; the introduction was thus no longer needed, and Beethoven replaced it with the march, which then became number 5 in the scene. Finally, in the third version, which Beethoven put together in 1814, the scene was pushed back a number and became number 6. (J.R.)

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