Hans Richter   (Christopher  Fifield)    (0-19-816157-3 )
Item# B1378
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Hans Richter   (Christopher  Fifield)    (0-19-816157-3 )
B1378.(HANS RICHTER) CHRISTOPHER FIFIELD. True Artist and True Friend – A Biography of Hans Richter. Oxford, Clarenden Press, 1993. 519pp. Index; Works conducted by Richter; Photos; Illus. - 0-19-816157-3

CRITIC REVIEW:

"True artist and true friend, thus Elgar saluted Hans Richter, the dedicatee of his First Symphony and the greatest conductor of his age. Richter was the first career-conductor to gain international fame and respect (before then conductors were invariably composers). During his career, which began in Budapest and ended over 40 years later in Manchester (where he was permanent conductor of the Halle Orchestra), he dominated the musical life of Vienna, London and Bayreuth, three of the most important musical centres of the 19th century. Few composers of the age were untouched by him: he gave first performances of works by Wagner (the Ring), Brahms (symphonies 2 and 3), Elgar (Enigma Variations, THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS, First Symphony), Bruckner, Dvorák, Tchaikovsky, Stanford and Parry; he assisted the careers of Sibelius, Bartok and Glazunov, as well as countless singers and instrumentalists. His energy drove him to travel on punishing schedules and conduct demanding programmes, all of which he recorded in his conducting books, containing details of the 4351 public performances he gave in his professional life. As if is this wasn't enough, he was also a professional horn player, could play every instrument except the harp, and could sing to a standard which enabled him to deputize at short notice for the indisposed Kothner at an early performance of Wagner's DIE MEISTERSINGER. This biography gives an insight into Hans Richter and the musical life of his age. It contains hitherto unpublished letters from a variety of musicians and composers, and an appendix, giving an analysis of his works, for instance - 97 performances of DON GIOVANNI, 75 of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony. This volume is a portrait of the man who established the art and profession of the modern conductor.

Richter was born in Raab, Austro-Hungarian Empire. He became associated with Richard Wagner in the 1860s, and in 1876 he was chosen to conduct the first complete performance of Wagner's DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

In 1877, 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 Dvorák (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.”

- Zillah Dorset Akron