contributo di Robert Newman


In 1785, one year after Max Franz, brother of the Emperor Joseph finally became Elector to Cologne (a post based in Bonn) the 15 year old Bohemian musician Anton Reicha (1770-1836) and his uncle Joseph Reicha (1752-1795) arrived in the city as specially invited new members of the Bonn Hofkapelle orchestra. Anton and Joseph were joining an orchestra in which the 15 year old Ludwig van Beethoven was already a cellist member. Anton took his place as a second violinist/second flute player. Joseph, (having been employed at the court of Wallerstein since 1774 as first cellist, had been promoted 8 years earlier to be its Kapellmeister) and was persuaded to leave behind him that very well paid post. This fact is noteworthy in itself. (Anton had earned 750 gulden at Wallerstein as Kapellmeister, almost twice as much as any other musician. Within a year of his arrival in Bonn Joseph Reicha had also been promoted and was earning even more, 1000 gulden per year, as the Bonn‘Concert Master’. More, in fact, than Kapellmeister Luchesi himself.

These two new musical/administrative appointments of 1785 at Bonn were products of Max Franz’s devotion to music. During long years in Vienna he had been specially keen to get involved in music by having his own musical chapel in embryo established in the Austrian capital alongside that of Joseph 2nd. Mozart was his good friend. One of the first acts that Max Franz made on accession to Bonn in 1784 was to order an inventory of musical assets of the Bonn chapel, an event which (as it happens) occurred just before return from leave in Italy of Kapellmeister Luchesi with his 1st violinist/concertmaster Mattioli. G. Taboga has shown that Max Franz, not content to wait for the imminent arrival of these two most important and knowledgeable persons appointed a substitute Ch. G. Neefe to conduct the music inventory. Its official results were quickly made. (They still survive and have been shown to be less than satisfactory in many respects - not least in Neefe failing to attribute many symphonic and church pieces to any specific composer. In several cases attributing them to Haydn. Symphonies and masses are, today, dubiously attributed at Modena to Joseph Haydn and to W.A. Mozart). In addition, Mattioli as Concertmaster lost his job on his eventual return though no reason for his dismissal is known. We can say, however, these structural changes at the Bonn Hofkapelle had many effects. Not all of them good.

Remarkable things started to happen at Bonn Hofkapelle soon after Joseph and Anton Reicha‘s appointment. First, Joseph seems to have taken over day to day responsibility for chapel musical activities which had previously been so effectively carried out by Luchesi for over 12 years. Second, the compositional talents of Luchesi were from this time onwards used for other music related activities away from the normal chapel duties. So Luchesi’s daily running of the Hofkapelle soon became impractical. This would explain the necessary recruitment of Joseph and Anton Reicha. These new and expanded duties of Luchesi seem to have included greater involvement with bringing to a state of completion music of other contemporary operatic composers including Mozart and assistance with the general musical expansion now being undertaken by Max Franz. From 1784 onwards a new catalogue had been started of Bonn musical acquisitions (still surviving at the Estense Library in Modena) which there is evidence Luchesi continued to oversee personally from time to time. (This catalogue contains entries for the acquisition of new musical works in Mozart’s and other composer’s names. The arrival of some of ‘Mozart’s’ musical works are shown in this catalogue as having arrived periodically between 1784 and 1791. Another consequence of the new Elector’s arrival was greater freedom for the Grossmann theatre group and for other touring players associated with Bonn whose activities were mainly of a touring kind. These Luchesi had personal involvement in, In effect theatrical productions were now being restructured. Max Franz was specially keen that ‘Mozart’s’ theatrical works were to be given priority of rehearsal and performance because within a few years ’Mozart’ operas are recorded as having been performed and rehearsed during the time the young Beethoven was still a member of the orchestra. The little researched (and even more rarely admitted) performance in German language of an early version of the opera ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ at Frankfurt am Main in 1785 - just before the arrival of the Reichas (which involved members of the Grossmann touring group, Luchesi himself and most probably other composers such Paul Wranitsky) must be regarded as certain. (Wranitzky had in that year of 1785 been asked to leave a very successful career in Vienna for temporary appointment as a composer at Esterhazy at the personal request of the well known Count Durazzo). It is very much regretted that eyewitness accounts and information on the Frankfurt ‘Figaro’ of that year (which would almost certainly have been found within various Conversation Books of Beethoven documenting his involvement as a musician at several of these operatic productions is not available due to their loss or destruction soon after the composer’s death in 1827. That Luchesi, Wrantisky and other skilled composers were at the disposal of Max Franz for operatic projects during this year of 1785 is a strong possibility. Starting with ‘Figaro’. Performed first in Germany in a German language version at Frankfurt am Main.

The 15 years old Anton Reicha, newly arrived in Bonn and employed as a second violinist and flute player would also have been soon aware with Beethoven of news that Beaumarchai’s notorious libretto for ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ was also being prepared for staging in Vienna in German language as a play. (Several reports indicate Reicha and Beethoven shared the same accomodation in Bonn during these teenage years).

It is also known that on 31st January of that year (1785) Emperor Joseph 2nd had written to Count Pergen (later head of the Austrian state police) on a subject which was to soon have huge impact on theatre and music saying -

'I have learned that the attached (libretto of) ‘Figaro’ has been proposed in German translation for the theatre.....Now, since this piece contains multiple indecencies I maintain that a critic has to reject it all or you yourself should make alterations for which you accept responsibility, taking in to account the effects of doing so'.

These things, occurring over 1 year before ‘Mozart’s’ opera in Italian was premiered in Vienna. Schickaneder’s Freihaus group are also known to have planned a stage production of Figaro for 3rd February 1785 in German language at the Kartnertortheater though it was cancelled.

And yet, just a few months later, at Frankfurt am Main, on 11th April 1785, a production of Figaro was publicly advertised and performed by Grossmann and by musicians, in German language, the use of music in which is still under active research by Luca Bianchini. And you will note that Joseph 2nd’s letter effectively leaves the issue of censorship/approval of the libretto to Pergen.

The Frankfurt ‘Figaro’ (performed with music) would of course have been known to theatrical administrators in Vienna such as Orsini-Rosenberg and known to Max Franz himself but it may not, in fact, have immediately been known to Joseph 2nd himself. Nor is it suggested the work existed in the form we know it today. In fact, all the evidence indicates the Frankfurt ’Figaro’ of 1785 was the Beaumarchais play set to some music, in a German translation, little of which music is found in the Vienna production of a year later. But at that time, and during the year which followed, the ‘Mozart’ opera was created. With very little help from Mozart.

According to JW Wolter -

‘The summer season of the Grossmann company began in 1785 on 29th March at Frankfurt am Main and lasted till 12th May. The most important theatrical event at this time was the first performance of Beaumarchais's 'Figaro'.....Immediately after its first performance on 11th April at Frankfurt the theatre of the Principality of Magonza received a permit to stage the same work.

To allow him to perform this satirical comedy Grossmann decided to turn it over to the Prince, entrusting censorship of Figaro to the advisor von Mors while Grossmann carried out some edits to the work...It was this version of 'Figaro' (though in Italian) that was premiered at Magonza for the first time on 23rd February 1786‘.

(J Wolter 'GFW Grossmann' - Cologne - 1901, p.57)

2 years later the 17 year old Anton Reicha in Bonn (with Luchesi busy elsewhere) was still in orchestral duties under his uncle Joseph (now appointed Concert Master in place of Mattioli). And at this point Reicha begins to have ideas of being a writer of symphonies. In his still unpublished autobiography (written some 4 years before his death in Paris and dictated to his friend ) he writes -

‘I wrote a grand symphony and also my ‘Scenes Italiennes’ in 1787 - the symphony was (finally) published by Brietkopf and Hartel’

Groves Dictionary suggests more than one symphony being attributed to Reicha at this time. Now, this previously unknown ability of Anton Reicha to write symphonies is noteworthy. He was aged 17 at the time this supposedly first occurred in Bonn (and this without having ever been taught composition - by anyone). Perhaps his uncle the Concert Master was a great teacher ?

Closer examination of contemporary references to Reicha symphonies (I.e. obtained from entries in Reicha’s own autobiography and from correspondence/notices shows the following -


a) Symphony., performed in Bonn, 1787, ‘lost‘, mentioned only in Reicha autobiography.

b) Symphony ‘a grand orchestre’ - ‘First Symphony’ in E Major - 1799-1800 ???? - published as Op.41 in Leipzig (1803).

c) Symphony ‘No.1’ in G Major (‘completed 13th July 1808’) Pc 14498c - Paris Conservatoire.

d) Symphony No. 2 (?) supposedly completed before 1808 and referred to in Emmanuel.

e) Symphony No. 3 ‘completed 4th September 1808’ Pc 14499 - Paris Conservatoire

f) ‘Grande Symphonie’ No. 2 (?) - 1808 - mentioned in Borrel

g) Sinfonie a grand orchestre in D Major (1809?) Pc - Paris Conservatoire (1st mvt)

h) 2 (or perhaps 4 !) Symphonies a grande orchestre (1809), No. 2 (1811), mentioned in Emmanuel and in Borrel.

I) Symphony in C Major, (before 1824) - fragment in HI, 141

j) Symphony in C Major (before 1824) - fragment in H1, 166

k) Symphony/Overture in C, (before 1824) - fragment in H1, 175

l) Symphony a Petit Orchestre No. 1, c, Paris Conservatoire 14500

m) Symphony in E, Pn 9153

n) Symphony in F, Pc - Paris Conservatoire, 14501

o) Symphony, US-Bpm** M.403.107

p) Various Symphonic Movements and Fragments, CH-E 19.08, F-Pn 9152-3, Pc 13107

Taking in to account the known facts of Reicha’s career (including the fact that he knew nothing of symphonic writing at the time of his arrival in Bonn) there is surely a strong possibility the 17 year old newcomer did have performed at Bonn several symphonies which, at that time, his uncle allowed him to describe as his own and which were not ‘lost’ as indicated above but which were, eventually, published. The first of these in 1803 in Leipzig but others years later, shortly after Reicha’s arrival in Paris. It is this possibility which we can at least consider. For there are, in fact, only 8 symphonies today attributed to Anton Reicha.

Symphony No. 3 (item ‘e’ above) was completed says Reicha in Paris in September 1808 - months after his arrival there. But on closer examination we find some remarkable features in this music. Take for example the slow (second) movement. Not only is it a remarkably accomplished movement but it contains stylistic features strikingly like those of symphonies attributed to the mature Joseph Haydn and also of the mature Ludwig van Beethoven ! The composer of this movement shows every sign of being highly skilled in creating a fusion of both styles. It is as if this music comes not from Anton Reicha but from a teacher who has greatly influenced Beethoven - a person intimately familiar with the late symphonies of Joseph Haydn. From, in fact, Kapellmeister Andrea Luchesi. Because, as readers will be aware, Luchesi’s symphonies mysteriously disappeared from Bonn (along with huge amounts of his other music of his own).This particular movement, indisputably, also quotes from a theme familiar to all music listeners - the one found in the 4th Movement of Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral Symphony’, Op.68 - a work published for the first time in that very same year, 1808 as the Paris publication of this work.

It is therefore suggested that this symphony actually came from Bonn and was really composed before 1799 before being eventually published in Reicha’s name after his arrival in Paris in 1808. Though composed by Andrea Luchesi.

Listen, if you will, to these three sections -

1. In the passage from around 3' 00 minutes to around 3' 20 ? (Answering passages between strings and winds ? Typically Beethoven). Not convinced ? 2. Next the marvellous extended string passage between 3' 36 minutes to around 4' 57'' ? Beethoven could have done this. 3. A third example between around 5' 37'' minutes and lasting until around 6' 25 ? This third example is as you can hear so typically ‘Beethovenesque’ it could be Beethoven himself - unless we knew better.. It could also come from numerous Beethoven orchestral works including the 4th Symphony. Or even the ‘Leonora 3rd’ overture of 1806.

That this music, rather like the early Op. 1 Sonatas for Keyboard and Violin of Andrea Luchesi (published in Bonn in the early 1770’s) has ‘Beethovenesque’ features so integral to itself is a fact that we can consider not being not a Reicha movement but one by Andrea Luchesi. A possibility increased by considering next another example from the same ‘Reicha’s’ official works.


Bearing in mind that Luchesi died in 1801 and that no symphony of Reicha was published until 1803 let’s move on to consider another interesting small work, a charming instrumental recitative and aria scored for solo cor anglais and orchestra. This work (published by Reicha in Paris in 1811)is clearly operatic in design. But it presents us with music that really belongs to opera buffa from the period 1785-1795 of almost 15 to 20 years before. It too may have originated in Bonn. And not from Reicha.


Readers may also be aware that in the itemised 1784 Music Inventory of Bonn reference is made on page 269 to 100 operatic ‘Entracte’s’ of Andrea Luchesi. These entractes have disappeared and have not been heard for over 200 years. They are known to have been bound together in 15 folders.

It is curious that in his still unpublished autobiography Anthon Reicha also claims to have composed a whole series of ‘Scenes Italiennes’ in Bonn during 1787 which he began performing as his very own only 21 years later in Paris. These Reicha ’Scenes Italiennes’ have also virtually disappeared (with only few tantalising fragmentary exceptions). But we are still able to find reference to a few of them in Reicha correspondence and from other sources -

‘Venne ed il nostro addio‘, frag., ? scène italienne, ? from Argine, A-Wn 10687–8

Unidentified frag., F-Pn fr. 12760, 419–20

‘Armide’ - Scena, R. di Calzabigi, c. 1787 (lost) mentioned in Reicha autobiography as one of the ‘Scenes Italiennes’.

‘’Donne, donne, chi vi crede’’- (cavatina), S, orch, ?1786–94, F-Pc 12021, ? scene italienne

‘’Basta ti credo … Quanto e fiero’’ - (recit and aria, ? P.L. Moline), 1v, orch, ?1800, Pc D.14855, arr. 1v, pf (Leipzig, 1807), ? scène italienne

‘’Aure amiche ah non spirate’’ - (scena and aria), S, orch, c1810, ? autograph in D-Rtt, copy in Hs, ? scène italienne

‘Raccolta di’ [6] arie, di [5] duetti e di [13] terzetti, 2 S, T, pf, Pc 10942, ? scènes italiennes [2 terzettos unacc.]

Further research in Paris for these fragments may reveal the true origin of these pieces and would establish whether they are derivatives from or versions of Luchesi’s long lost operatic scenes and entractes. Are these, perhaps, works by an Italian composer - by Luchesi ?

Robert Newman