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Reichardt, Johann Friedrich

Reichardt, Johann Friedrich

Reichardt, Johann Friedrich , prominent German composer and writer on music, father of Luise Reichardt; b. KÖnigsberg, Nov. 25, 1752; d. Giebichen stein, near Halle, June 27, 1814. He received his initial musical training from his father, the lutenist Johann Reichardt (c. 1720–80), becoming proficient as a violinist, lutenist, and singer; also studied with J. F. Hartknoch, C. G. Richter, F. A. Veichtner, and others. After attending the Univ. of KÖnigsberg (1768–71), he traveled widely; received some instruction from Kirnberger in Berlin and from Homilius in Dresden; also briefly attended the Univ. of Leipzig. He was active as a government official for a year, and then was appointed Kapellmeister of the Royal Opera in Berlin by Frederick the Great in 1775. In 1783 he founded the Concert Spirituel in Berlin, where he brought out several of his own compositions; traveled widely while retaining his royal appointment. After the death of Frederick the Great in 1786, Reichardt’s star rose under the new king, Friedrich Wilhelm II. In collaboration with Goethe, he produced the successful Singspiel Claudine von Villa Bella (Berlin, July 29, 1789). Dissension at the Royal Opera, however, led the King to give Reichardt a leave of absence for 3 years, with full pay, in 1790. He again traveled widely; among the cities he visited was Paris (1792). His sympathies for the French Revolution led his Berlin enemies to persuade Friedrich Wilhelm to dismiss him without pay in 1794. He then settled at his estate in Giebichenstein. In 1796 Friedrich Wilhelm pardoned him and named him director of the Halle salt mines. With the French invasion of 1806, he fled with his family to north Germany; upon his return in 1807, he found that his estate had been destroyed; shortly afterward, Jérôme Bonaparte called him to Kassel as directeur général des théâtres et de son orchestre, but he renewed his travels in 1808. In 1809 he returned to Giebichenstein, where he eked out a living by writing and composing. His most significant contribution as a composer rests upon his more than 1,500 songs. He is generally regarded as the finest lieder composer before Schubert. His stage works are important for their movement away from the opera seria conventions. As a writer on music, he was a pioneering figure in music journalism. His first wife was Juliane (née Benda) Reichardt (b. Potsdam, May 4, 1752; d. there, May 11, 1783), the daughter of Franz Benda; she married Reichardt in 1776; a fine pianist, she also publ. a number of songs.


H. Schletter, J.F. R.: Sein Leben und seine musikalische Tätigkeit (Augsburg, 1865); C. Lange, j.F. R. (Halle, 1902); M. Faller, j.F. R. und die Anfänge der musikalischen Journalistik (Kassel, 1929); P. Sieber, J.F. R. als Musikästhetiker: Seine Anschauungen über Wesen und Wirkung der Musik (Strasbourg, 1930); F. FlÖssner, Beiträge zur R.-Forschung (Frankfurt am Main, 1933); E. Neuss, Das Giebichensteiner Dichterparadies: J.F. R. und die Herberge der Romantik (Halle, 1949); W. Salmen, J.F. R. (Freiburg, 1963); N. Reich, A Translation and Commentary of SelectedWritings of J.F. R. (diss., N.Y.U., 1973); J.F. R. (1752–1814): Komponist und Schriftsteller der Revolutionszeit: Bericht über die Konferenze anlässlich seines 175. Todestages (Halle an der Saale, 1992); D. Fischer-Dieskau, Weil nicht alle Blütenträume reiften: J.F. R., Hofkapellmeister dreier PreussenkÖnige: Porträt und Selbstporträt (Stuttgart, 1992).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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