Hans Richter (conductor)

Last updated
Hans Richter Hans Richter by Barraud c1880s.jpg
Hans Richter

Hans Richter (János Richter) (4 April 1843 5 December 1916) was an AustrianHungarian orchestral and operatic conductor.

Contents

Biography

Richter was born in Raab (Hungarian: Győr), Kingdom of Hungary, Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father was a local composer, conductor and regens chori Anton Richter. His mother was opera-singer Jozefa Csazenszky. He studied at the Vienna Conservatory. He had a particular interest in the horn, and developed his conducting career at several different opera houses in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He became associated with Richard Wagner in the 1860s, and played the solo trumpet part in the 1870 private premiere of the Siegfried Idyll . In 1876, he was chosen to conduct the first complete performance of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

In 1877, [1] he assisted the ailing composer as conductor of a major series of Wagner concerts in London, and from then onwards he became a familiar feature of English musical life, appearing at many choral festivals including as principal conductor of the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival (1885–1909) and directing the Hallé Orchestra (1899–1911) and the newly formed London Symphony Orchestra (1904–1911). In Europe his work was chiefly based in Vienna, where (transcending the bitter division between the followers of Wagner and those of Johannes Brahms) he gave much attention to the works of Brahms himself, Anton Bruckner (who once slipped a coin into his hand after a concert by way of a tip) and Antonín Dvořák (he gave the London and Vienna premieres of the Symphonic Variations ); he also continued to work at Bayreuth.

In later years, Richter became a whole-hearted admirer of Sir Edward Elgar, and he also came to accept Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. On one occasion, he laid down his baton and allowed a London orchestra to play the whole second movement of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony itself. Never afraid to experiment on behalf of the music he loved, he lent his authority to an English-language production of The Ring at Covent Garden (January and February 1909). In 1909 he delivered the British premiere, very shortly after the world premiere, in Boston, of Ignacy Jan Paderewski's Symphony in B minor "Polonia". Failing eyesight forced his retirement in 1911. He died at Bayreuth in 1916.

Richter's approach to conducting was monumental rather than mercurial or dynamic, emphasising the overall structure of major works in preference to bringing out individual moments of beauty or passion. Some observers regarded him as little more than a time-beater; but others, notably Eugene Goossens, pointed to the remarkable rhythmic vitality of his work, a quality which hardly squares with the image of Richter as a rather stolid and static personality. [ neutrality is disputed ]

Hans Richter was first brought to England by Wagner in 1877 to conduct six operatic concerts in London. The impact made by Richter (then 32 years old) on the capital's orchestral players was enormous. They had never been rehearsed so thoroughly, nor with such discipline as that of a genuine musician rather than a showman; nothing was allowed to slip through as the fundamentals were revisited. Intonation was scrutinised, details brought out, tempi rationalised, notes corrected. His practical knowledge (he played every orchestral instrument) proved formidable and no weak player felt secure. He usually conducted rehearsals and performances of orchestral concerts and operas from memory.

The living composers whose works he introduced to British audiences were the greats in whose company he could be found, Wagner, Brahms, Bruckner, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Stanford, Parry and Elgar. For 20 years from 1879 he toured the length and breadth of Britain with his Richter Orchestra.

Christopher Fifield, Hans Richter's impact as a career conductor [1]     

A rebuke he is supposed to have made to a musician in the Covent Garden orchestra is still sometimes quoted:

"Up with your damned nonsense will I put twice, or perhaps once, but sometimes always, by God, never." [2]

Notable premieres

Notes

  1. 1 2 Christopher Fifield, abstract: Hans Richter's impact as a career conductor on music making in England 1877-1911. "Conference Abstracts". Sixth Biennial Conference on Music in 19th-Century Britain, University of Birmingham, July 2007.
  2. Knowles, Elizabeth; Partington, Angela (1999). The Oxford dictionary of quotations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 627. ISBN   978-0-19-860173-9.

Related Research Articles

Wilhelm Furtwängler German conductor and composer

Gustav Heinrich Ernst Martin Wilhelm Furtwängler was a German conductor and composer. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century.

Adrian Boult English conductor

Sir Adrian Cedric Boult, CH was an English conductor. Brought up in a prosperous mercantile family, he followed musical studies in England and at Leipzig, Germany, with early conducting work in London for the Royal Opera House and Sergei Diaghilev's ballet company. His first prominent post was conductor of the City of Birmingham Orchestra in 1924. When the British Broadcasting Corporation appointed him director of music in 1930, he established the BBC Symphony Orchestra and became its chief conductor. The orchestra set standards of excellence that were rivalled in Britain only by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), founded two years later.

Bruno Walter German-born conductor, pianist, and composer

Bruno Walter was a German-born conductor, pianist and composer. Born in Berlin, he left Germany in 1933 to escape the Third Reich, was naturalized as a French citizen in 1938, and settled in the United States in 1939. He worked closely with Gustav Mahler, whose music he helped to establish in the repertory, held major positions with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Salzburg Festival, Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Staatsoper Unter den Linden and Deutsche Oper Berlin, among others, made recordings of historical and artistic significance, and is widely considered to be one of the great conductors of the 20th century.

Carl Schuricht German conductor

Carl Adolph Schuricht was a German conductor.

Bernard Haitink Dutch conductor and violinist

Bernard Johan Herman Haitink is a Dutch conductor.

Sergiu Celibidache Romanian conductor and composer

Sergiu Celibidache was a Romanian conductor, composer, musical theorist, and teacher of Greek descent . Educated in his native Romania, and later in Paris and Berlin, Celibidache's career in music spanned over five decades, including tenures as principal conductor for the Munich Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Sicilian Symphony Orchestra and several European orchestras. Later in life, he taught at Mainz University in Germany and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Eugen Jochum German conductor

Eugen Jochum was an eminent German conductor.

Hans Rott Austrian composer

Hans Rott was an Austrian composer and organist. His music is little-known today, though he received high praise in his time from Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner. He left a symphony and Lieder, among other works.

Wolfgang Sawallisch German conductor and pianist

Wolfgang Sawallisch was a German conductor and pianist.

Symphony No. 6 (Dvořák) symphony by Antonín Dvořák

Czech composer Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) composed his Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60, B. 112, in 1880. It was originally published as Symphony No. 1 and is dedicated to Hans Richter, who was the conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. With a performance time of approximately 40 minutes, the four-movement piece was one of the first of Dvořák’s large symphonic works to draw international attention. In it, he manages to capture some of the Czech national style within a standard Germanic classical-romantic form.

Arthur Nikisch Hungarian conductor

Arthur Nikisch was a Hungarian conductor who performed internationally, holding posts in Boston, London, Leipzig and—most importantly—Berlin. He was considered an outstanding interpreter of the music of Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Liszt. Johannes Brahms praised Nikisch's performance of his Fourth Symphony as "quite exemplary, it's impossible to hear it any better."

William Steinberg American conductor

William Steinberg was a German-American conductor.

Symphony No. 3 (Bruckner) symphony by Anton Bruckner

Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 in D minor, WAB 103, was dedicated to Richard Wagner and is sometimes known as his "Wagner Symphony". It was written in 1873, revised in 1877 and again in 1889.

Árpád Joó was a Hungarian-American conductor and concert pianist.

Adolph Brodsky Russian musician

Adolph Davidovich Brodsky was a Russian violinist.

Ibbs and Tillett was a London-based classical music artist and concert management agency that flourished between 1906 and 1990 in the United Kingdom. It was described as "one of the legendary duos in classical music artist management".

Christopher Fifield is an English conductor and classical music historian and musicologist based in London.

Julius Harrison English composer and conductor

Julius Allan Greenway Harrison was an English composer who was particularly known for his conducting of operatic works. Born in Lower Mitton, Stourport in Worcestershire, by the age of 16 he was already an established musician. His career included a directorship of opera at the Royal Academy of Music where he was a professor of composition, a position as répétiteur at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, conductor for the British National Opera Company, military service as an officer in the Royal Flying Corps, and founder member and vice-president of the Elgar Society.

Antonín Dvořák's Symphonic Variations on the Theme “I am a fiddler” for orchestra, Op. 78, B. 70, were written in 1877. They are played fairly commonly, much like Johannes Brahms's Variations on a Theme by Haydn and Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations. They are often recorded in conjunction with his nine symphonies.

References

Further reading