Why Did Beethoven Write
the Fourth Overture to Fidelio?
IN an article on the "position of the great Leonore overture in Fidelio," which appeared in the Allgemeine Musikzeitung in 1936, Felix Weingartner entered a controversy which has raged in different stages and from various angles for well over a century. True, his remarks had reference only to a special case at that time--they criticized Mahler's practice of inserting Leonore No. 3 between the dungeon scene and the second finale. But they served at the same time to revive the whole hotly contested question bearing on the existence of four overtures to the opera.
If we consider Beethoven's own wishes in the matter, of which there is incontestable proof, then the principal question in the problem of the four overtures presented by Weingartner centers on only two of them, namely, the second of the two large ones in C major ( "Leonore" No. 3) and the small one in E major ( Fidelio overture). For Beethoven withdrew Leonore No. 1 and it was not used for the opera-in any case with his authorization. In the second version of the opera, however, Leonore No. 3 replaced Leonore No. 2. Though we of a later generation
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Publication information: Book title: Beethoven Studies. Contributors: Ludwig Misch - Author. Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press. Place of publication: Norman, OK. Publication year: 1953. Page number: 139.