Antonin Reichaʼs didactic cycles: between theory and practice

Victoria Melnic 1
  • 1 Academy of Music, Theater and Fine Arts Chișinău,


Antonin Reicha (1770-1826) was a reputed Czech composer, theorist and teacher, who studied in Germany, and was naturalized French, who composed numerous musical works in different genres and wrote several treatises on different aspects of the sound art. An important place in Reichaʼs artistic heritage is occupied by the didactic cycles, which represent examples of works that happily combine instructional and artistic purposes, being developed as a support for the composerʼs didactic activity and at the same time as a supplement to his theoretical writings. The author emphasizes repeatedly that the theory must be justified by practice and that the student must know the principles of the contemporary composition and not just the old rules by which the predecessors were guided. This article examines Reichaʼs didactic cycles, among which we find collections of fugues, variations, duets and trios, as well as some collections of studies. Considering the large number of works named by Reicha Studies he can rightly be considered one of the parents of this genre in French music. But in Reichaʼs case, the aim of the studies is not only to cultivate virtuosity itself, but rather complex exercises that involve both the “technological” processes of interpretation and the “spiritual” ones. In our opinion, the figure of this musician, his theoretical writings and compositional works eloquently illustrate the dialectical relationship between tradition and innovation on the one hand and the complex relationship between musical theory and practice on the other.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Despines, J.-P. (1977). Trente-six fugues pour le pianoforte composees dʼapres un nouveau systeme par Anton Reicha en relation avec ses traites didactiques (These soumise à la Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research pour le degré de MMA en musicologie, McGill University, Montreal-Quebec). Retrieved from:

  • Gultsova, D. (2014). Poetics of Piano Etudes in the French musical culture of the 19th and early 20th centuries. [Гульцова Д. Поэтика фортепианного этюда во французской музыкальной культуре ХIХ-начала ХХ века]. Music art and culture. Published: 2014-12-12 Retrieved from:

  • Hegdal, M. (2010). The timeless radicalness of Reicha. Ultima. Oslo Contemporary Music Festival 08.-18.09.10. Official Festival Magazine, pp. 69-72. Retrieved from:

  • Hurwitz, D. (f. a.). Reicha Horn Trios. Retrieved from:

  • Landey, P. M. (2000). A. Reicha: Biographical sketch. In: Reicha A., Treatise on Melody (p. IX). New York: Pendragon Press.

  • Löwenmark, H. (2018). Reicha and the piano, volume III. Toccata Classics, London, 2018. Retrieved from:

  • Racek, J. (1961). Preface to edition: Antonín Rejcha. LʼArt de varier op. 57, per il pianoforte. [Edité par Dana Šetková. Notice de Jan Racek] (1961). Praha: Státní hudební vydavatelství.

  • Ramaut, A. (2005). De deux recuiels pour piano forte intitule “Etudes”. Contribution a une aproche de lʼopus 30 et de lʼopus 97 dʼAnton Reicha. Gas-Ghidina C., Jam J.-L. (Ed.) Aux origines de lʼécole française de pianoforte de 1770 à 1815: actes du colloque du Centre de recherches révolutionnaires et romantiques, Université Blaise Pascal (Clermont-Ferrand, 8 et 9: décembre 1999), 76-86. Presses Univ. Blaise Pascal.

  • Reicha, A. Etudes dans le genre fugué pour le pianoforte, Op. 97. Paris: Erard, n.d. (ca.1825).

  • Stone, P. E. (1990). Reicha, Antoine. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Vol. XV, p. 696). London: Oxford University Press.

  • Vysloužil, J. (1975). Antoine Joseph Reicha, ami de Jeunesse de L. van Beethoven. Muzikološki zbornik, letnik 11, p. 28-39. URN:NBN:SI:DOC-3CXLV4VG Retrieved from:


Journal + Issues