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Reichardt, Louise (1779–1826)

Reichardt, Louise (1779–1826)

German composer. Born on April 11, 1779, in Paris, France; died on November 17, 1826, in Hamburg, Germany; daughter of Johann Friedrich Reichardt (a composer at the court of Frederick II the Great) and Juliane Benda (a singer, pianist, and composer); studied with her father and with Johann Friedrich Clasing.

Organized and conducted several women's choruses (1817); mainly composed songs; prepared singers for Hamburg's musical festival (1818) but was not allowed to conduct as that was considered inappropriate for a woman.

Louise Reichardt was born in 1779 in Paris, France, the daughter of Johann Friedrich Reichardt, a composer at the court of Frederick II the Great, and Juliane Benda , a singer, pianist, and composer. By the time she was 11, four of Louise's songs appeared in an anthology of her father's compositions. In 1808, she began teaching. A year later, Reichardt struck out on her own to seek her fortune in Hamburg, where she supported herself as a teacher, choral conductor, and composer. She adopted the Romantic artistic model. Unlike earlier generations, Reichardt was determined not to depend on royal patronage for her income but rather upon a wider public audience. Most of her songs, written from 1809 until her death in 1826, were popular with the middle-class society which dominated Hamburg; her melodies were memorable and her piano accompaniments simple. Because of its melodic lyricism, Reichardt's music has been compared with that of Franz Schubert. Reichardt was engaged to poet Friedrich Eschen, who suddenly died before their wedding. A second engagement to the painter Franz Gareis was also terminated by death. She was very involved with preparing the Hamburg chorus for public concerts. As a woman, however, she was never allowed to conduct in public. Despite these gender restrictions, Reichardt strongly influenced musical life in Hamburg through her composing, teaching, and behind-the-scenes conducting.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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