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František (Franz) Xaver RICHTER

(*1. 12. 1709 Holešov — †12. 9. 1789 Strasbourg)

Bohemian composer, Kapellmeister and singer

Very little is known about his youth. He received a musical education possibly under Fux's personal supervision in Vienna. He also spent some time in Italy. In 1736 Richter entered to the Stuttgart Hofkapelle as a bass singer. In 1737 he became director of music at the Benedictine Ritterakademie in Ettal. In 1740 he was appointed vice-Kapellmeister to the Prince-Abbot Anselm von Reichlin-Meldegg in Kempten, Allgäu, later becoming Kapellmeister. Around 1747 Richter joined the Hofkapelle of the Elector Palatine Carl Theodor in Mannheim as a bass. There exists some mentions about Richter as violinist but this is not proved. During 1750´s Richter made tours, first to the Oettingen-Wallerstein court, later to France, England and the Netherlands, and in 1760´s he spent some time in Bonn. Around 1768 he was appointed a court chamber composer but he also obtained recognition in Mannheim as a composer of sacred music. In 1769 he succeeded Joseph Gamier as Kapellmeister at Strasbourg Cathedral where he stayed until his death. His performing and composing activities turned increasingly to sacred music. As composer he now devoted himself to church music, though his duties included also the supervision of secular music at the prince-bishop´s court and the direction of the Strasbourg municipal orchestra. Ignace Pleyel was appointed his assistant in 1783 and succeeded him on his death in 1789. Richter was also esteemed as a teacher. Among his most famous pupils were J.M.Kraus, H.J. Riegel, Carl Stamitz, F.X.Pokorny and Ferdinand Fraenzl. Between 1761 and 1767 he wrote a treatise on harmony and composition Harmonische Belehrungen (1760-7). F. X. Richter was one of the leaders, and next to J. V. Stamic one of the most expressive personalities of the Mannheim school, which were so important for the beginnings of the symphonie, and for the evolution of the Classical tonal style. Richter´s compositional style connect the style characteristics of the Baroque with more progressive elements. He adapted the new Mannheim pre-Classical symphonic style with his own differentiated dynamics and instrumentation. Richter wrote a significant number of symphonies for the Mannheim orchestra but he was temperamentally and artistically more interested in the composition of church music. Later he also became displeased with the preoccupation with virtuosity and modishness at Mannheim, which he considered was leading composers to over-rely on stereotyped musical effects. Richter wrote around 70 symphonies, six of them were published in Paris by 1744, that is before his appointment to the Electoral court. He wrote a succession of concertos for harpsichord, flute, oboe, clarino, French horn and violoncello, 6 string quartets, 6 sonatas for hapsichord, violin/flute and violoncello, a second set of 6 sonatas for 2 violins, violoncello and hapsichord. He composed an oratorio for Good Friday La deposizione dalla croce (1748), 34 masses, Requiem, over 60 motets. One of his two Te Deums, is one of the most distinguished Baroque works, and with 12 of his string symphonies was published in Paris in 1744. His psalm setting Super flumina Babylonis (1767-68) received an excellent notice in the Mercure de France.

Bibliography

J.Reutter: Studien zur Kirchenmusik Franz Xaver Richters (1709-1789) (Frankfurt, 1993)
R.Pečman: Franz Xaver Richter und seine "Harmonische Belehrungen", ed.E.Thom (Blankenburg, Harz, 1990)


Discography

Sinfonia No. 1 in G major
Sinfonia No. 2 in C major
Sinfonia No. 3 in B major
Sinfonia a Quattro in C minor
Adagio and Fuga in G minor

Suk Chamber Orchestra, Prof. Jaroslav Přikryl - harpsichord, Prof. Jaroslav Tůma - organ
CD SKO

Symphony in F minor
Talich Chamber Orchestra, Jan Talich
Josef Suk - violin, Zuzana Růžičková - harpsichord

CD Lotos

Trumpet Concerto in D
Hĺkan Hardenberger - trumpet, Simon Preston - organ
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, London Philharmonic Orchestra, , I Musici, Sir Neville Marriner, Elgar Howarth

2 CD Philips

Trumpet Concerto in D major
Simon Preston - Organ, Hĺkan Hardenberger - Trumpet, Maurice André - Trumpet
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Munich Bach Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Hans Stadlmair, Karl Richter, Neville Marriner

2 CD Deutsche Grammophon

Concerto in D major for Trumpet, Strings and Harpsichord
Consonanza di Praga (Vladislav Kozderka - trumpet, Zdenka Pelikanova - 1st violin, Jan Dudek - 2nd violin, Jiri Richter - viola, Vaclav Jirovec - cello, Marie Sestakova - harpsichord)
CD MusicVars

Concertos for Flute and Orchestra in E minor, in D major
Jiří Válek - flute, Josef Hála - harpsichord continuo
Dvořák Chamber Orchestra, Vladimír Válek

CD Supraphon