Voices from the 19th Century: Beethoven makes an Announcement



The Artaria firm was the most important publisher of music in Vienna from the late 1760s through the middle of the 19th Century. The company was also significant in art and map publishing, yet music is what they’re especially remembered for thanks to their business acumen and the relationships they forged with a number of well-known composers.

Artaria’s early catalog read as a “who’s who” in music of the period with Joseph Haydn, W.A. Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven featuring prominently. Other noted composers include Luigi Boccherini, Muzio Clementi, Christoph Gluck, Leopold Kozeluch, Ignaz Pleyel, and Antonio Salieri.

First and foremost, the company was a business and, as such, sought to make sure its publications were protected, which meant assuring that composers were on board with any agreements made.

The announcement below appeared on July 1, 1814 in the newspaper Wiener Zeitung. Beethoven states that a copy of a revised version Fidelio, his one and only opera, has been handed over to Artaria so that arrangements of various kinds may be created and sold (there was significant market for arrangements).

He closes by declaring copyright, a familiar and common gesture today, but less so back then.

The undersigned at the request of the Herren Artaria & Co., herewith declares that he has given the score of his opera FIDELIO to the aforesaid music establishment for publication under his direction in a complete pianoforte score, quartets, or other arrangements for wind band. The present musical version is not to be confounded with an earlier one, since hardly a musical number has been left unchanged, and more than half of the opera was composed anew. Scores in the only authorized copy and also the book in manuscript may be had from me or from the reviser of the book, Herr Fr. Treitschke, K.K. Court Theatre Poet. Other unauthorized copies will be punished by law.

Vienna, June 28th, 1814
Ludwig van Beethoven

(Translation: Eric Hoeprich)

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