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Richter, Franz Xaver


Prominent composer of the Mannheim school; b. Holleschau (Moravia), Dec. 1, 1709; d. Strasbourg, Sept. 12, 1789. After musical studies, probably in Vienna and Italy, Richter became concurrently vice chapelmaster to the prince-abbot of Kempten (Allgäu) and Elector Karl Theodor of the Palatinate in 1740, from which year dates his productive career as composer and teacher. After 22 years at the Mannheim court chapel (174769), he became cathedral choirmaster in Strasbourg. His early compositions were for the church; at Mannheim his creative activity naturally centered upon orchestral and chamber music in the current of the Bohemian-Mannheim development; and at Strasbourg he returned to his first genre, creating a sacred style similar in form, texture, and sonority, in sweetness and expressivity, to the Bohemian symphonic style (as in the work of V. J. Tomášek, J. L. Dusek, A. Gyrowetz, and J. A. and L. A. Koželuch), but also related to the Viennese baroque church tradition, especially in the aria movements of his cantata Masses. Together with these characteristics of the newer music, a stricter style along the principles of J. J. fux may also be found, and his Missa Laetare in contrapuncto posita (1744) is a masterpiece of stile antico, heavily laden with canons, fugues, mirror fugues, and multiple counterpoints. In all he composed more than 40 Masses and 50 motets, as well as many cantatas, Office music, and other vocal works. In his theoretical works he followed Fux and M. Spiess, who placed the resources of stile antico and stile moderno at the service of an intensified mode of expression for church music.

Bibliography: w. barth, Die Messenkomposition Franz Xaver Richters 17091789 (Munich 1941). w. gÄssler, Die Sinfonie von F. X. Richter (Munich 1941). f. x. matthias, "Thematischer Katalog der im Strassburger Münsterarchiv aufbewahrten kirchenmusikalischen Werke F. X. Richters," Riemann-Festschrift, ed. c. h. mennicke (Leipzig 1909). r. mÜnster, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949) 11:455460. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, ed. n. slonimsky (5th, rev. ed. New York 1958) 1338. d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge 1996) 743. j. reutter, Studien zur Kirchenmusik Franz Xaver Richters (17091789) 2 vols. (Frankfurt am Main 1993). n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Eighth Edition (New York 1992) 15071508. r. wÜrtz, "Franz Xaver Richter" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 15, ed. s. sadie, (New York 1980) 846847.

[k. g. fellerer]

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