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Reicha (Rejcha), Antoine (–Joseph) (Antonin or Anton)

Reicha (Rejcha), Antoine (–Joseph) (Antonin or Anton)

Reicha (Rejcha), Antoine (-Joseph) (Antonin or Anton) , distinguished Czech-born French music theorist, pedagogue, and composer; b. Prague, Feb. 26, 1770; d. Paris, May 28, 1836. His father died when he was only 10 months old, and he eventually was adopted by his uncle, who gave him lessons in violin and piano; he also studied flute. The family settled in Bonn in 1785. Antoine played violin and flute there, his fellow musicians including Beethoven and C.G. Neefe. Having acquired a knowledge of composition, he conducted his 1st Sym. in Bonn in 1787. After attending the Univ. there, in the wake of the French invasion, in 1794, he went to Hamburg, where he was active there as a teacher of piano, harmony, and composition; also devoted part of his time to composing. In 1799 he went to Paris to establish himself as a composer for the theater, but found success only with 2 of his syms., an overture, and some scènes italiennes. In 1801 he went to Vienna. He had made the acquaintance of Haydn in Bonn, and the two now became good friends; he received instruction from Albrechtsberger and Salieri. His friendship with Beethoven grew apace, and Prince Lobkowitz commissioned Reicha to write the opera L’Ouragan (c. 1801). The Empress Marie Thérèse then was moved to commission him to compose the opera Argina, regina di Granata, which was given at the Imperial Palace in a private performance with the Empress taking a prominent role (c. 1802). In 1808 he settled in Paris. Although his operas Cagliostro (Nov. 27, 1810), Natalie (July 13, 1816), and Sapho (Dec. 16, 1822) failed to make an impression, Reicha gained prominence as a music theorist and teacher; in 1818 he was appointed prof. of counterpoint and fugue at the Paris Cons. Among those who studied with him either privately or at the Cons. were Baillot, Habeneck, Rode, Berlioz, Liszt, and Franck. His Cours de composition musicale, ou Traité complet et raisonné d’harmonie pratique (Paris, c. 1817) was adopted by the Cons.; his most significant publication was the Traité de haute composition musicale (Paris, 1824–26). In 1829 he became a naturalized French citizen. He was made Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1831. In 1835 he succeeded Boieldieu as a member of the Académie. He dictated his autobiography, Notes sur Antoine Reicha, to his student Henri Blanchard about 1824. As a composer, Reicha remains best known for his chamber music. He also wrote a great deal of orch. music, including at least 17 syms. and numerous concertos.


Practische Beispiele: Ein Beitrag zur Geistescultur des Tonsetzers…begleitet mit philosophisch-practischen Anmerkungen (1803); Sur la musique comme art purement sentimental (c. 1813); Traité de mélodie (Paris, 1814; éd. by C. Czerny as Vollständiges Lehrbuch der musikalischen Composition, II, Vienna, 1832); Petit traité d’harmonie pratique à 2 parties, op.84 (Paris, c. 1814); Cours de composition musicale, ou Traité complet et raisonné d’harmonie pratique (Paris, c. 1817; éd. by C. Czerny as Vollständiges Lehrbuch, I, Vienna, 1832); Traité de haute composition ratique (Paris, c.1817; ed. by C. Czerny as Vollstan-Lehrbuch, III—IV, Vienna, 1832); à messieurs les membres de l’Académie des beaux-arts à l’Institut de Prance (Paris, 1831); Art du compositeur dramatique, ou Cours complet de composition vocale (Paris, 1833; éd. by C. Czerny as Die Kunst der dramatischen Composition, Vienna, 1833).


E. Bücken, Anton R.: Sein Leben und seine Kompositionen (Munich, 1912); M. Emmanuel, Antonin R. (Paris, 1937); O. Sotolovâ, Antonin Rejcha (Prague, 1977; with thematic catalog).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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