Musikalischer Brückenbauer ins Überirdische

Now available on all international Amazon platforms:


Roland Wörner
Musical bridges into the transcendent
A history of his impact
edition baptisma   ISBN 978-3-00-074457-0

The conductor, organist and harpsichordist Karl Richter stands like a monolith in the history of Protestant church music and Bach interpretation in the second half of the 20th century. As a very young man, Karl Richter was inspired by the central German cantorial tradition of his homeland, by the early impression that the sound of Saxon organs and the works of Johann Sebastian Bach made on him, and decided to devote his life to the service of sacred music. He put his intention into practice in church services, teaching, concerts and recordings in a life’s work of almost incalculable magnitude. Much thought has been given to the fascination that Karl Richter exerted.

This book aims to remind readers in a comprehensive and detailed way of a lost time, and to make those who were not able to experience it aware of what was lost with it. A time which, historically speaking, has only recently turned into the past, but which, as a result of a paradigm shift in the understanding and performance of so-called “early music”, has pushed aside what many listeners were still able to experience as a living present when they were young. It is not only that when Karl Richter died 42 years ago, a musical era that had been characterised by “building cathedrals of music” came to a definitive close . An entire musical tradition, subject, since Mendelssohn’s rediscovery of Bach, to constant renewal and repeated redefinition of the composer’s position for the prevailing times, and whose guiding spirit Karl Richter had become by virtue of his roots in the Saxon-Leipzig tradition, had become obsolete.

This book aims to collect and, as far as possible, make accessible to the interested reader, all the essential testimonies on Karl Richter that have been published in various places. In the commentaries on Richter’s concerts, it was decided, after careful consideration, to quote mainly from press reviews of the time, which were written from direct experience of the music. For decades, Karl Richter and his style of music-making were the principal target of attack for mu-sicians and critics who advocated a new ideal of historically-informed performance of music. This was understandable, for only strong, outstanding artistic personalities offer a sufficient source of friction from which something new can emerge. However, much of what was actually new about the “Richter style” and what effect its novelty had on audiences and critics of the day has been forgotten. Much more than a “retelling” with the benefit of hindsight, the original voices of the time, when they are those of qualified commentators, can therefore authentically convey the astounding development of Munich into a new centre where Bach’s music was cul-tivated, and where a new audience emerged for it, the contemporary reception of Richter’s style of interpretation, and the effect of his charisma on the audience of his time.

Foreword 7
Part 1
Karl Richter | The Musician 10 | 592
Karl Richter | The Man 40 | 593

Part 2

Childhood and musical apprenticeship | 1926 – 1947 59 | 594
Family – In the Dresden Kreuzchor - Labour service and military service - Study of church
music - Richter’s teacher Karl Straube - Richter’s teacher Gunther Ramin - Examinations at the
Leipzig Academy of Music

Thomasorganist in Leipzig | 1948 – 1951 81 | 594
Appointment and church services - Bach cantatas on Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk - The Bach
Year 1950 - Concert activities - Termination of the post of Thomasorganist
The Years of Establishment in Munich | 1951 – 1954 101 | 595
Application to the Markuskirche - Appointment to the Hochschule fur Musik – Looking back:
Escaping from the GDR – Marriage to Gladys – A new impulse for Protestant church music in
Munich - Richter’s early choral work - How Munich became a Bach city - The Munich Bach
Choir - The rediscovery of Bach’s cantatas - The first St Matthew Passion

Beyond Munich | 1954 – 1958 132 | 596
Bach Week Ansbach - WDR Cologne - Munich Bach Days - Historical and modern performance
practice - Bach for Telefunken-Decca - Kieth Engen - Karl Richter, the new Thomaskantor?
- Ekkehard Tietze - Concert tour to the USA 1956 - First foreign trip by the Munich
Bach Choir: Italy - Ottobeuren - Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony - Bach for Telefunken-Decca

Benchmark Bach for Archiv Produktion 1958 – 1962 179 | 597
A New View of the St Matthew Passion - Handel’s Organ Concertos for Teldec - Appointment
as Church Music Director - Lucerne Festival - Schnitger Organ in Norden - Haydn and Mozart
for Teldec - Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem - Bach’s B minor Mass and Magnificat for DG
Archiv - Haydn’s Creation - Debut in Paris - “Twelve Hours of Music Every Day” - Handel’s
Samson and Concerti grossi op. 6 - Conductor of the Bern Music Society?

Breakthrough to an international career | 1962 – 1964 226 | 599
Buenos Aires - The organ in Munich’s Herkulessaal - Bach’s Musical Offering and Double
Concertos for Archiv - Debuts in London, Vienna and Salzburg - The St John Passion for
Archiv Produktion - Sponsorship Prize of the City of Munich - Handel’s Messiah for DG

Farewell to Ansbach | 1964 / 1965 264 | 600
Richter’s last Bach Week Ansbach – Treatment of the text in Bach’s motets - Looking back on
the Ansbach years - The Bavarian Radio interview with Egloff Schwaiger - A “model performance”
of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio for Archiv - The portrait by Wolf-Eberhard von Lewinski -
First US tour with Bach Choir and Orchestra

A Bach Festival for Munich | 1965 / 1966 303 | 601
First Munich Bach Festival - Magadino Organ Festival - Portrait in Der Spiegel - Wagner and
Bruckner in Vienna - Bach’s violin sonatas for Archiv - Concert tour by the Munich Bach Choir
to Finland - Once again: the treatment of text in Bach’s motets - The media response to the
Second Munich Bach Festival

The Year 1967: “Karl the Great” 338 | 602
New residence in Switzerland - The Brandenburg Concertos for Archiv - Guest conductor of
the London Philharmonic Orchestra - A “Bach-Richter-Fest” in Vienna - 20 years of Ottobeuren
- Gluck’s Orfeo for DG - German cultural representative at Expo ’67 - Reformation Anniversary
in Berlin

At the summit: “Whoever speaks of Bach today also speaks of Karl Richter” | 1968 / 1969       372 | 604
Bach in black and white - The first trip to the Soviet Union - Radio interview with Wolf Eberhard
von Lewinski - “Karl Richter’s ‘miracle’: The Munich Bach Festival” - Guest conductor
of the English Chamber Orchestra - Debut on the opera podium - The Viennese “Organ Feud” -
Satyr play on the sidelines: How others do it... - Handel’s Samson for Archiv - Verdi’s Requiem
- Handel’s Giulio Cesare for DG – Concert tour by the Munich Bach Choir and Bach
Orchestra to Japan - Beethoven’s Missa solemnnis

The major recording projects for Archiv Produktion | 1970 – 1975 426 | 606
The Arco organ at the Salzburg Mozarteum - Handel’s Concerti grossi for Archiv - Organ concertos
by Hindemith and Poulenc - The first heart attack - The St Matthew Passion for Unitel -
Anna Reynolds - Mostly Mozart Festival New York - Complete recording of Bach’s harpsichord
concertos - The Bach cantata cycle: first press response - Bach’s violin sonatas with
Leonid Kogan - The new “epic” St Matthew Passion - Bach choir crisis? - In London: Messiah
for DG - Aldo Baldin - B minor Mass, Salzburg 1972 - Complete recording of Bach’s flute
sonatas - The crisis of glory - Renewal in the Bach Choir - New repertoire: Elijah by
Mendelssohn – Dvořak’s Stabat Mater - Farewell to the Academy of Music - Archiv
Produktion’s “green” Bach edition

“A Rock in the Surf” | 1976 – 1979 509 | 608
The “Golden Gramophone” - Anniversaries 1976 - Interview in the Sonntagsblatt - The Bach
Choir Crisis - The eye operation - Press Response to the Archiv Produktion Bach Cantata Cycle
- Recordings on the Silbermann Organ in Freiberg - The Media Pros and Cons of the Bach
Orchestra’s 1978 Tour of Germany - Munich Bach Handel Festival 1978 - Richter’s second
recording of the St Matthew Passion – Gluck’s Iphigénie in Tauris: Richter’s Munich Opera
Production - Interview with the New York Times 1979

The Last Year | 1980 / 1981 573 | 611
Elijah in Hamburg - The last recording: Bach’s Triple Concertos - Concert tour with Beethoven’s
Missa solemnis - The last performance of the B minor Mass – Tour of Germany by the
Bach Orchestra 1979 - In Italy with the Goldberg Variations - The last concert tour with Aurele
Nicolet - The last day - Leonard Bernstein’s musical epitaph for Karl Richter - Werner Egk’s

I The Author 591
II Notes 591
III Discography 611
IV The Works Performed 618
V Interviews and Films 659
VI Index of Names 660