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Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Van Boer, Bertil H.

Second Advisor

Rutschman, Carla Jean

Third Advisor

Rutschman, Edward Raymond


The problematic, compositional development of Beethoven’s only rescue opera, Fidelio, which was written from 1804 to 1814, was inspired by a variety of late‐eighteenth century operatic forms, including Viennese and German Singspiel, French opéra comique rescue opera and Italian opera seria. The composer explored the technical aspects of these operatic forms in several compositions, in particular those written by Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf (Der Doktor und Apotheker, Vienna, 1786); Paul Wranitzky (Oberon, Vienna, 1789); Luigi Cherubini (Les deux journées, Paris, 1800); and André‐Ernest‐ Modeste Grétry (Richard Coeur‐de‐Lion, Paris, 1784). Focusing specifically on the compositional influence of Cherubini’s Les deux journées on Beethoven’s Fidelio, this Thesis will question Beethoven’s juxtaposition of Singspiel melody with the somber texture of the opéra comique aria in both acts of his rescue opera. Furthermore, the melodic form of Cherubini’s Les deux journées, strongly influenced by Grétry’s pre‐Revolutionary opéra comique Richard Coeur‐de‐Lion, was an operatic composition which indirectly affected Beethoven’s Fidelio. Overall, this Thesis establishes that Beethoven created in Fidelio an unfocused composition of previously‐established operatic genres of the Classical period, rather than sending forth a personal statement of late‐Classical, early‐Romantic operatic form.




Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Digital Format


Subjects – Names (LCNAF)

Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827; Cherubini, Luigi, 1760-1842


Academic theses




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