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Patterns in the Historiography of 19th-Century Music

Author(s): Vincent Duckles


Source: Acta Musicologica, Vol. 42, Fasc. 1/2, Numro spcial. Actes prliminaires du Colloque
de Saint-Germain-en-Laye (septembre 1970) / Special Issue. Preliminary Papers of the Colloque
at Saint-Germain-en-Laye (September 1970) / Sonderheft. Vorberichte zum Kolloquium von
Saint-Germain-en-Laye (September 1970) (Jan. - Jun., 1970), pp. 75-82
Published by: International Musicological Society
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R. Meylan:A proposdu ddveloppement


au debutdu dix-neuvinmesi&cle
de l'instrumentation

75

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texte A:
Please send all suggestions,additionsand commentsconcerningthis text to:
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Prof. Alexander L. Ringer, School of music, College of fine and applied arts, University
of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, U.S.A.

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Patternsin the Historiographyof 19th-CenturyMusic


VINCENT DUCKLES (BERKELEY/CALIFORNIA)

Musicology has been giving increasing attention in recent years to the study of its
own past. This is perhaps a natural consequence of the late coming-of-age of the
discipline, which is generally regardedas lagging behind similar efforts at self examination on the part of the art and literary historians. But it is no accident that the
growing interest in the history of musical scholarship has coincidedwith an awakening
of activity in the field of 19th-century studies, since it was the 19th century that
gave shape, definition, as well as institutional support to the scholarly study of
music as we know it. As Alfred Einstein observed: "Musicology is a child of the
Romantic era."1 He doubtless had in mind a period characterized by an intense
preoccupation with history, not only in music but in all of the humanistic disciplines.
This preoccupation grew, on the one hand, out of the romantic's desire to escape his
own world into a more vividly imagined Middle Ages or Renaissance, or, on the
other, to reclaim his own world through the support history could lend to his
growing feelings of national identity. The latter observation is particularly true of
the German historians of the time. This is not to deny that the beginnings of modern
musical scholarship can be traced back at least as far as the 17th century, or to
diminish the credit that rightfully belongs to the achievements of the great music
historians of the Enlightenment. They took the first steps. The 19th century, however,
not only added immeasurablyto our fund of empirical knowledge of the musical past,
but it supplied a rationale for scholarly activity in music that has remained operative
to the present day. The development has been a gradual one with few clear lines of
demarcation visible. In fact, one of the chief difficulties inherent in analyzing the
ideological world of the 19th-century musicologist lies in the fact that most of the
concepts and methods to which he subscribed are alive and functioning in our own
I

Music of the Romantic Era (New York 1947), p. 352.

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76

V. Duckles: Patterns in the Historiography of 19th-Century Music

day. We are too close to 19th-century thought to view it with complete detachment,
just as we are too close to the music of the Romantic period to escape its influence
on our current musical taste.
The study of the historiography of music, by which I mean not merely the writing
of music history but the historical examination of all the processes of musical
scholarship, is a product of 19th-century thought, although it has rarely been given
explicit recognition in the systematic surveys of the period.2 Guido Adler's comprehensive program of the content of Musikwissenschaft, printed in the first issue of
the Vierteliahrsschriftin 1885 3 does not provide a place for historiographicalinquiry
as such, nor does Riemann's five-part classification in his Grundrif der Musikwissenschaft (1908).4 The explanation for this oversight may lie in the fact that historiography does not pertain to the history of music per se. It is essentially a branch of
the history of ideas, concerned with the analysis of those concepts, principles, and
laws by means of which men have sought to rationalize their experience of the art.
Historian and historiographerfollow different lines of investigation. As Collingwood
has pointed out, it is the historian's business to apprehend the past as a thing in
itself, while it is the function of the "philosopher" (and here he has the historiographer in mind) "to ask, not what kind of events they were, and when and where
they took place, but what it is about them that makes it possible for historians to
know them."5 In other words, the object of the historiography of music is the mind
of the learned musician, whether he be historian, theorist aesthetician, critic, or
pedagogue. One can watch these varied interests becoming consolidated, during the
course of the century, in the concept of musicology as we know it today, but for the
purposes of the present discussion it will be preferableto speak of musical scholarship,
or musical erudition.
It is important to remember that the 19th-century forerunner of the musicologist
was not a specialized research scholar in the modern sense. His scholarship was free
of any breath of professionalism, academic or otherwise. His place in the world of
learning was a natural continuation of the place occupied by the cultivated amateur,
the dilettante, of the late 18th century. More often than not, he would be trained
for a career in business, the law, or the civil service. If he held a position in an
academic institution, it would not be in a faculty of music but quite possibly in a
faculty of theology, history, or classical philology. Remarkably few approaches to
musical scholarship were made from the ranks of the practising musicians. In fact,
it was generally deplored by such writers as Forkel, Gerber, or Hiller, that musicians
did not read books, that their training produced narrow craftsmen, not broad men
of learning.
2
One of the few specifically historiographical works that appeared before the end of the 19th
century is PIERREAUBRY'S La Musicologie mendidvale,histoire et methodes (Paris 1900).
3 Umfang, Methode und Ziel der
Musikwissenschaft, in: Vierteljahrsschrift fiar Musikwissenschaft,
1 (1885), p. 5-20.
Geschichte der Musik seit Beethoven (Berlin 1901) is one of the few histories of
4 Huoo RIEMANN'S
19th-century music that takes into account the role of the learned musicians (theorists, critics,
historians, etc.) in the total pattern of the century. See pp. 39-42, 228-234, and 762-800.
The Idea of History (London 1946), p. 3.
5 R. G. COLLINGWOOD,

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V. Duckles: Patternsin the Historiographyof 19th-CenturyMusic

77

Die Musik hat unter den sch6nen Kiinstenallein das Ungliick, das sie mehr als ein
Handwerkoderals eine mechanischeKunsterlerntwirdda sie dochals eine Wissenschaft,die
ihre Grundsatzehat, studiertwerdensollte6.
The influence of the dilettante was, on the whole, a salutary one in the development
of the discipline. It was responsible for the fact that musical scholarship from the
outset defined its scope in the broadest humanistic terms. Musical learning, at least
until the time of Fetis, was the province of the gentleman scholar whose interests
were not confined by overspecialization.
Perhaps the clearest picture of the intellectual climate which gave rise to musical
scholarship in the 19th century can be found in the pages of the contemporarymusic
journals. Imogen Fellinger has recently given us a listing of over 1,500 such journals
founded between 1798 and 1900.7 Only a few of these belong directly in the premusicology tradition, but these few are of major importance. The basic pattern was
established by the Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (1798-1850) issued
under the editorship of Friedrich Rochlitz and his successors W. F. Fink and C. F.
Becker.Its particularamalgam of critical review,biographical and historical feuilleton,
and current chronicle was taken over by Adolf Bernhard Marx in his Berliner
Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (1824-30), and by Gottfried Weber and Siegfried
Dehn in Caicilia(1824-48) published by Schott in Mainz. Here one can witness the
progressive sharpeningof scholarly interests. It will be recalled that the Berlin journal
played an important role in the revival of interest in the music of J. S. Bach, and
that Cdcilia printed valuable historical writings by Raphael Georg Kiesewetter, and
some highly significant bibliographical essays by Anton Schmid. Germany was not
the only country where influential critical reviews were established. The Quarterly
Musical Magazine and Review (1818-28), founded and edited by Richard Mackenzie
Bacon, brought a high level of musical and cultural information to London readers,
while the Revue Musicale (1827-35), which merged with the Gazette musicale de
Paris in 1835, was an outlet for the prodigious intellectual energies of Frangois
Joseph Fetis. Within a few years, journals of a more specialized scholarly nature began
to emerge, such as J. G. Hienztsch's Eutonia ("eine hauptsachlich pidagogische
Musik-Zeitschrift," 1829-37), and Felix Danjou's Revue de la musique religieuse,
populaire et classique (1845-48) with its fascinating accounts of the editor's travels
in Italy with Stephan Morelot in search of early manuscripts and other documents
related to the history of music. Several journals were devoted to the problems of
church music and chant reform, notably the Caecilien-Kalender (1876-85) that
became the KirchenmusikalischesJahrbuch in 1887. By this time we are well within
the orbit of modern "scientific" musicology as represented by Chrysander'sJahrbiRcher(1863 and 1867), Eitner's Monatshefte far Musikgeschichte (1869-1905),
and the Vierteljahrsschriftfilr Musikwissenschaft (1885-94), in which three of the
6 JOHANN
ADAM HILLER'S
Wdchentliche Nachrichten und Anmerkungen die Musik betreffend (Leipzig,

July 4, 1768), p. 1.

7 VerzeichnisderMusikzeitscdriften
des 19. Jahrhunderts,
in: StudienzurMusikgeschichte
des 19. Jahrhunderts 10 (Regensburg 1968).

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V. Duckles: Patterns in the Historiography of 19th-Century Music

leading research scholars of the latter half of the century were involved: Chrysander,
Spitta, and Adler. When the story of 19th-century musical scholarship is told in full
detail, that story will owe much to the evidence to be found in the contemporaneous
music press.8
An aspect sometimes underrated in discussions of 19th-century musical erudition
is the role of the music pedagogue. In some periods of history, including our own,
teacher and research scholar tend to be separatedby an unbridgeablegulf. In the 19th
century, however, this was not the case. It was an age captivated by a new and
stimulating vision of the function of the teacher in society, a vision that resulted
from the fusion of two contesting elements within the culture of the 18th century:
(1) the old rationalistic faith in the power of human reason to reshape society; and
(2) a new concept, indebted chiefly to Rousseau, that placed the emphasis on the
natural man (or child) and his unique imaginative response to his world. Music was
directly involved in these educational reforms, not only at the elementary level
where Hans Georg Nigeli sought to implement the progressive ideas of Pestalozzi
through the use of folk song in the schools, but also at a higher level of artistic
instruction of the kind advocated by Adolf Bernhard Marx. Marx was a thoroughgoing Hegelian for whom music, above all the other arts, was a reflection of the
Absolute as expressed in the human spirit. For all their speculative overtones, his
views provided a rich context for the reform of public education in music.9
The didactic element in 19th-century musical learning is one of its most salient
features. The first half of the century was extraordinarily productive, not only in
ideas concerning music education but in institutions to embody them. Between 1800
and 1850 most of the major European conservatories were founded. In Paris the
leading figure was Alexandre Choron whose Institution royale de Musique classique
et religieuse, together with his numerous writings and translations of music theory
works, had much influence on the patterns of professional education for musicians in
France.1oAnother development allied to the broadening of music education was the
rapid growth in opportunities to hear and perform early music. The English led the
way in this in their Concerts of Antient Music, founded in 1776, where no work was
admitted to the program unless it had been composed more than 20 years ago. In
Paris F6tis introduced his Concert historique in 1832. Kiesewetter was conducting
similar Historische Hauskonzertein Vienna as early as 1816. In the first decade of the
century a small group of amateurs at Heidelberg formed a Singverein under the
direction of Anton Friedrich Thibaut, professor of law, and gave the impetus to a
widespread movement to revive the purity of 16th-century music in the Palestrina
style. Thibaut's pamphlet. Ueber Reinheit der Tonkunst (1825) was the Bible of this
s Unfortunately the analysis of the content of the 19th-century music press is far from an accomplishment at present. Reference to the bibliography appended to IMOGEN
article Zeitschriften,
FELLINGER'S
in: MGG vol. 14, indicates that relevant studies are few and widely scattered.
1 A. B. MARX,Die Musik des 19. Jahrhunderts und
ihre Pflege (Leipzig 1855).
10 For a recent assessment of Choron's work, see WILLIKAHL,Zur musikalischen Renaissancebewegung
in Frankreidi wiihrend der ersten Hdilfte des 19. Jahrhunderts, in: Festschrift Joseph Schmidt-Gbrg
zum 60. Geburtstag (Bonn 1957), p. 156-174.

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movement. At the same time the age witnessed the publication of some of the first
historical anthologies of music. Forkel had projected a large edition of this nature
that never came to completion. A number of smaller collections appeared, however,
such as William Crotch's Specimens of various styles of music (London 1807-18, 3
vols.), FriedrichRochlitz's SammlungvorziiglicherGesangstiicke (Mainz, Paris & Antwerp 1837-42, 3 vols.), and Joseph Fr6hlich's Beitriigezur Geschichte der Musik der
iilteren und neueren Zeit auf musikalische Documente gegriindet (Wiirzburg 1863).
The emphasis on editorial and bibliographical effort was a natural outcome of
the state in which musical scholarship found itself at the beginning of the century.
Unlike painting, architecture, literature, or the other arts in which the object is
directly accessible to the observer, music lies buried under layers of documentation
and must be resurrected through the patient work of the paleographer, editor, and
performer.Before any critical or comparative studies could be undertaken, the sources
had to be brought under control and made available to the scholarly community. By
far the greater part of the energy of 19th-century musical scholarship was directed
toward this end. The philological approach, so called because it was modeled on
proceduresdeveloped in the study of classical philology, resulted in the publication of
a succession of monumental editions marked by increasingly critical standards.11
Among the earlier sets were Commer's Collectio operum musicorum Batavorum
(1844-58), Proske's Musica divina (1853-63), and Maldeghem's Tresor musical
(1865-93). Shortly after the middle of the century, editors were embarked on the
complete editions of the works of Bach, Hiindel, Beethoven, and Palestrina. Other
lines of philological investigation were being pursued in the direction suggested by
Martin Gerbert's Scriptores ecclesiastici de musica (1784); namely, the editing of
the early literary and theoretical texts by such men as Edmond-Henride Coussemaker,
Guido Maria Dreves, and Karl von Jan. Perhaps the finest demonstration of the
philological method in action was the work of the Benedictines of Solesmes, under
the leadership of Dom Gueranger, in bringing order into the chaos of plainchant
research.12
The end of the century was marked by a renaissance in music bibliography devoted
to the location and description of the primary sources. The leading figure here, of
course, was Robert Eitner whose Quellen-Lexikon is just now in process of replacement by a new International Inventory of Musical Sources. At the same time there
was a movement toward the publication of catalogs of some of the major European
music collections. Many of these appeared as Beilage to Eitner's Monatshefte fiir
Musikgeschichte. This was the period in which the great national libraries began to
emerge out of the consolidation of the earlier, semi-private, royal or municipal
11 The philologicalaspects of 19th-centurymusic researchhas been coveredadmirablyby FRIEDRICH
W. RIEDEL
in his Zur Geschichte der musikalischen Quelleniiberlieferung und Quellenkunde, in: Acta
Musicologica 38 (1966), p. 3-27.
12 For a detailed
summary of the accomplishments of the Benedictines of Solesmes in plainchant
research, see DOM P. COMBE,Le reforme du chant et des livres de chant gregorien a l'abbaye de
Solesmes (1833-1883), in: Etudes gregoriennes 6 (1963), p. 185-234. Preliminaires de la reforme
gregorienne de S. Pie X, ibid. 7 (1967), p. 63-145; 8 (1967), p. 137-198; 9 (1968), p. 47-100.

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V. Duckles: Patterns in the Historiography of 19th-Century Music

archives. As these institutions became conscious of the importance of their music


holdings, a new type of scholarly professional came into existance-the music
librarian or archivist. This was also the age in which the private collector of music
came into his own: Aloys Fuchs in Vienna, Georg P6lchau in Berlin, and Fortunato
Santini in Rome. Men such as these were responsible for preserving many of the
priceless documents that make up our musical heritage.
Central to our understanding of the mind of the scholar musician of the 19th
century is an analysis of his concept of the meaning of history, and the nature of
historical change. The subject is too large for more than a brief consideration here,
but it represents a fruitful line of investigation that has attracted a number of
scholars who are interested in historiographyin the strict sense of the term.13Standing
at the threshold of the period is Johann Nikolaus Forkel whose viewpoint was firmly
rooted in the historiography of the Enlightenment. His was a view in which history
resembled a pyramid-shaped structure of which the culture of the historian's own
day formed the apex. Forkel was, generally speaking, committed to an idea of progress in music, but in several respects he departed from the position held by his
rationalistic colleagues, Charles Burney and John Hawkins. He rejected Burney's
view of music as an "innocent luxury" designed to "charm the senses." He felt that
if the art was to be significant it must appeal to the serious and profound aspects of
human nature. Progress was not necessarily continuous. It had reached its highest
point, in his estimation, in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and since then had
suffered a decline. Forkel's conception of historical change tended more toward the
romantic view of "organic development" than the rationalistic belief in "endless
progress". Most significant in prefiguringthe work of historians later in the century
was a belief, derived from Herder and the G6ttingen school of universal historians,
in the interrelatedness of all cultural phenomena.
The most vigorous and independant thinker among the music historians of the
first half of the century was Fran9ois-JosephFltis.Y He stimulated, and dominated,
a host of learned musicians in Paris and Brussels. In spite of the fact that he arrived
late at the point of actually writing a music history (he did not live to complete his
13 One of the first scholars to devote himself to the historiography of 19th-century music was the
late WILIBALD
GuRLITT, who began work on these problems as early as 1918. See his papers on Hugo
Riemann und die Musikgeschichte, and Franz-Joseph Fetis und seine Rolle in der Geschichte der
Musikwissenschaft, both reprinted in the Beihefte zum Archiv ftir Musikwissenschaft, Band II, Teil 2
(1966), p. 103-122 and 123-139. WERNER
KiiMMELhas made a major contribution in his Geschichte
und Musikgeschichte. Die Musik der Neuzeit in Geschichtsschreibung und Geschichtsauffassung des
deutschen Kulturbereichs von der Aufkliirung bis zu J. G. Droysen und Jacob Burckhardt(Kassel 1967).
The historical concepts prevailing during the latter half of the century have been the subject of
HEINZin his Geschichtsbegriff und Wissenschaftscharakter der Musikwisseninvestigation by RUDOLF
schaft in der zweiten Hdilfte des 19. Jahrhunderts [Studien zur Musikgeschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts, 11] (Regensburg 1968). Special attention should be called to the complete set of volumes
published under the title, Studien zur Musikgeschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts, and sponsored by the
Fritz Thyssen Stiftung (1965). This series, of which 15 volumes have appeared to date, has
opened up a new era in the study of 19th-century music. The only substantial work in English on the
subject of the historiography of music is WARRENALLEN'S Philosophies of Music History (New
York 1939).
14 See ROBERTWANGERME'ES FranMois-JosephFetis, musicologue et compositeur, (Brussels 1951).

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5-volume Histoire gendrale), the historical thrust of his thinking was evident in all
his work. He was much influenced by Forkel,particularlyby the latter's comprehensive
bibliography of music literature, the Allgemeine Literatur der Musik which appeared
in 1792; but his attitude toward change in history was more flexible and less overladen
with value judgments than that of his German predecessor. It was F6tis's opinion
that historians could trace developmental features within specific musical forms
and techniques, but that the art itself did not progress; rather it underwent transformation at the hands of successive generations of composers. F6tis made a conscious
effort to separate the biographical aspects of music history (as represented in his
great Biographie universelle des musiciens) from a study of developing forms,
although both aspects were essential to his total scheme. In this separation of the
musical art object from its social context, one can witness the interplay of two
distinct trends that by the end of the century had crystalized into sharply contrasting
approaches to the music historian's problem: the cultural-sociological approach on
the one hand, and the formalistic-structural approach on the other. This dichotemy
is basic to all 19th-century thought about history, and it is also closely akin to the
aesthetic controversies of the time. The basic question was: where does musical
meaning reside? Some found the answer in the social-cultural complex in which the
art was produced; others, like Hanslick, found it in the forms and structures inherent
in the nature of the medium.
The name of Raphael Georg Kiesewetter, the Viennese contemporary and rival
of Fetis, cannot be omitted from a discussion of this kind, although he did not
attempt history writing on the scale of Forkel or Fetis.15Rather, he can be credited
with one of the first popular outline histories, a work of considerable originality
organized in terms of seventeen brief epochs each identified by its most important,
or characteristic, composer.
The prime example of the culture-oriented historian is August Wilhelm Ambros.16
Trained in law and well versed in art history, he brought a rich humanistic imagination to bear on the study of the musical past. His own views, strongly influenced by
the prevailing Hegelian philosophy of history, stressed the organic unity of music
and the other arts in society. As he expressed it, "the several arts are only prismatic
reflections of one and the same ray of light". The view is a challenging one and still
has its adherents, but breadth of vision alone did not account for the vitality of
Ambros's work as an historian. He accomplished much original research, particularly
in the area that held the greatest interest for him-the music of the Renaissance. It
is significant that Ambros exerted greater influence than any other historian on that
generation of musical scholars who reached maturity in the years just prior to World
War I, one of the most productive periods in the history of musicology in Germany.
At the opposite pole in historical thinking stands Hugo Riemann. Riemann never
15 See HERFRIDKIER'S Raphael Georg Kiesewetter . . . Wegbereiter des musikalischen Historismus

[Studien zur Musikgeschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts, 13] (Regensburg 1968).


PHILIPPNAEGELE'Sunpublished Princeton University
dissertation: August Wilhelm Ambros: his historical and critical thought, (Ph. D., Princeton 1954,

16 The best study of Ambros's life and thought is


Typescript).

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V. Duckles: Patternsin the Historiographyof 19th-CenturyMusic

lost sight of the element of human perception in the equation of scholarship. He was
a dedicated teacher whose didactic interests covered all aspects of musical learning.
For him, the one constant factor in the musical experience was man's innate capacity
to perceive form and structure. It follows that the historian's chief concern should
be to delineate those developing forms and styles, tracing their course through time,
showing their relationships, and demonstratingtheir connections with the inner logic
of tonal perception. In this respect, Riemann's objective was akin to that of the art
historian Heinrich Wblfflin, whose effort it was to write "art history without names",
or at least art history in which biographical data played a secondary role. Riemann's
position led quite naturally into the style-oriented historicism of Guido Adler, which
has furnished the dominant rationale for modern historical scholarship in music.
If the 19th-century can be said to have created musicology as we know it today,
then it must be held accountable for some of the current weaknesses as well as the
strengths of the discipline. In one respect the 19th-century musical scholars did their
work almost too well in claiming a place for themselves in the academic hierarchy.
This led to a premature specialization and fostered the kind of isolationism all too
common in highly specialized fields. Musicology, or any humanistic discipline for
that matter, thrives on interdisciplanary stimulation. It cannot survive without continuing nourishment from the outside. Sometimes the effort to gain a foothold as
a "scientific" study led to a narrownessof viewpoint that no reputable scientist would
endorse. There has been a disposition to regard the music of Western civilization as
the only field worthy of attention, to the neglect of the broader perspective of world
music. There has been a tendency to emphasize the historical
at the expense of
the sy stematic aspects of our study, and to devote a disproportionate amount of
energy to the remote past. Scholars have been reluctant to take a stand on contemporary developments in the art, although this last complaint can hardly be held
against our 19th-century predecessors; every age has its own brand of conservatism.
But there has been a tendency, that can be more directly traced to 19th-century
thought, to promote scholarship along nationalistic lines, even to the point of
chauvinism. Fortunately this is fast disappearing. It would be an injustice to blame
19th-century scholarship for our own misses of its heritage.
On est prig d'envoyertoutes suggestions,additionset commentairesconcernantce
texte A:
Pleasesend all suggestions.additionsand commentsconcerningthis text to:
Bitte alle Hinweise,Zusditzeund Anmerkungen
beziiglichdes Textes sendenan:
Prof. Barry S. Brook, City University of New York, 33 West 42 St., New York, N. Y.
10036, U.S.A.
Ces contributions seront de preference ridigees dans l'une des trois langues: anglais,

franqaisou allemand.
Contributionsshould be submittedpreferablyin one of these languages: English,
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