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Karl Richter (conductor)

Karl Richter
Born (1926-10-15)October 15, 1926
Plauen, Germany
Died February 15, 1981(1981-02-15) (aged 54)
Munich, West Germany
Genres Classical music
Occupation(s) Conductor, choirmaster
Notable instruments

Karl Richter (15 October 1926 – 15 February 1981) was a Münchener Bach-Chor starting in 1954 and the Münchener Bach-Orchester. In the 1960s and 1970s he recorded a lot and toured Japan, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

He played and conducted a wide range of music (sacred works from Heinrich Schütz to Max Reger, as well as the symphonic and concerto repertoire of the Classical and Romantic periods - even including Bruckner's symphonies), but is best remembered for his interpretations of Johann Sebastian Bach and Handel. Richter's performances were known for their soulsearching, intense and festive manner. He avoided the fluctuations in tempi that were then characteristic of the prevailing Romantic manner of conducting Bach, and devoted much attention to the woodwinds and to balance. His recordings from 1958-70 are notable for "discipline, rhythmic tautness and expressive intensity.".[1]

As well as a conductor, Richter is also remembered as a virtuoso harpsichordist and organist. His performances of Bach's organ works are known for their imposing registrations and favorable pace.

In the 1970s, according to Nicholas Anderson, "with the growing interest in historically aware performance... Richter's values were questioned"; in 1981, "a victim of passing fashion and changing taste, he died an embittered man.[2]" While staying in a hotel in Munich in 1981 he suffered a fatal heart attack, and was buried in the Enzenbühl cemetery in Zurich eight days later.


  1. ^ Nicholas Anderson, "Karl Richter," in Oxford Composer Companions: J.S. Bach, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 420
  2. ^ Nicholas Anderson, "Karl Richter," in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 420


  • Martin, Johannes (2005). Karl Richter in München, 1951-1981: Zeitzeugen erinnern sich: eine Dokumentation (in German).  

External links

  • J.S. - Karl Richter Recordings
  • Bach Cantatas Website - Karl Richter Biography
  • New York Times - Karl Richter, conductor, dies at 54 leader of Münich Bach Orchestra
  • Chronicle recordings & tours Karl Richter and MBC / MBO 1951 - 1959
  • Chronicle recordings & tours Karl Richter and MBC / MBO 1960 - 1965
  • Chronicle recordings & tours Karl Richter and MBC / MBO 1966 - 1969
  • Chronicle recordings & tours Karl Richter and MBC / MBO 1970 - 1975
  • Chronicle recordings & tours Karl Richter and MBC / MBO 1977 - 1981
  • Weblog Karl Richter in Munich (1951 - 1981) - Artists and Bach-chorister remember his work and influence on their career
  • "Karl Richter 1921 – 1981, His Life & Work", by Roland Wörner, from the DVD "Karl Richter in München 1951 - 1981, Part 1: Solisten • Konzerte • Tourneen", by Johannes Martin, 2006, EAN 9783000192777
  • Brandenburg Concerto BWV 1050, the harpsichord solo.
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