František Xaver Richter

composer (1709–1789)

Richter belongs to the large number of Czech composers and musicians who spent most of their careers abroad.

Until 1736 Richter likely worked some time in Vienna, where he could become disciple of the significant Viennese composer Johann Joseph Fux (1660 to 1741), whose renowned theoretical work Gradus ad Parnassum (1725) – actually a textbook of traditional counterpoint – served as a model for Richter’s own work entitled Harmonische Belehrungen.

The extent of J. J. Fux’s influence over Richter’s life-long endeavours was essential. Capable as he was of absorbing of the upcoming style of Rococo and Neoclassicism, Richter never abandoned the traditional polyphonic counterpoint mode of composition – stile antico – that he applied both in his sacred and secular music.

A significant milestone in his artistic and personal career came only during his stay in Kempten, where he entered the services of Abbot Anselm von Reichlin-Meldegg in 1740. Here he assumed the position of music director, vice conductor and later chief conductor of the local Benedictine monastery.

Following a successful audition in Strasbourg in 1769, Richter finally secured a position adequate to his abilities that was to provide unlooked for satisfaction for the previous failures. Richter, the newly appointed maître de kapelle, held the position of cathedral conductor, court orchestra director, and municipal orchestra conductor. Having at his command an orchestra of fifty and a choir attended by 16 adults and 8 children. As the court music director Richter conducted his orchestra on various private or publicly flamboyant occasions, such as the visit of the future French queen Marie Antoinetta in 1770.

Richter’s output within the field of chamber music is particularly significant: apart from a number of sonatas, trios, and divertimentos, what really stands out are his seven string quartets. Judging by The New Grove18 music encyclopaedia, Richter composed his string quartets probably around the year 1757, although they were first published (except for quartet G minor) only eleven years later in London.

Titles for sale:
String Quartet in B flat major
String Quartet in C major