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Christian Gottlob Neefe is assured of a footnote in music history as Beethoven’s first teacher of repute. Born in 1748, he initially made his mark in Leipzig as a composer of comic opera; in 1779 he moved to Bonn and was appointed court organist in 1782, when the 12-year-old Beethoven, already his pupil, became his understudy.

Beethoven’s first published composition, the nine variations on a march by Ernst Christoph Dressler (also from 1782), owed much to Neefe, who had originally given Beethoven the theme to set as homework and then been so impressed by the results he arranged for their publication. The variations make an intriguing 15- minute coda to

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