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Country : Germany
Date of Born: : October 15, 1926
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Karl Richter (October 15, 1926 – February 15, 1981) was a German conductor, organist, and harpsichordist. He was born in Plauen and studied first in Dresden and then Leipzig, where he received his degree in 1949. In the same year, he became organist at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, where Johann Sebastian Bach once held the position as Musical Director. In 1951, he moved to Munich, where he taught at the conservatory and was cantor and organist at St. Mark's Church. He also conducted the Munich Bach Choir starting in 1954 and the Munich Bach Orchestra. In the 1960s and 1970s, he did a great deal of recording and undertook tours to Japan, the United States, and the Soviet Union.
He conducted a wide range of music, but is best remembered today for his interpretations of Johann Sebastian Bach's music. Karl Richter avoided the fluctuations in tempo that were then characteristic of the prevailing Romantic manner of conducting Bach, but otherwise did not make use of historically authentic performance practices, using modern instruments right to the end of his career.
He died of a heart attack at the age of 54.
According to Richter's advocates, his performances are in most cases definitive. His orchestra, chorus, and soloists were as good as it gets, and his conducting took Bach performance to a level surpassing both his predecessors and, in most cases, his successors. By using smaller forces than the pseudo-Romantic performancs of the 1950s and earlier, he was able to bring out details and nuances that were buried in the earlier oversized renditions. By using female altos and sopranos and modern woodwinds and brasses throughout, he did not let himself get trapped in the thin, cold, reedy, dead sounds that many later conductors seek in the name of authenticity. Listen, for example, to Richter doing "Wahrlich" in the St. Matthew Passion, or "Es ist Vollbracht" with Hertha Toepper and Oswald Uhl in the St. John Passion, or to any of the Evangelist passages sung by Ernst Haefliger (either Passion) or Fritz Wunderlich (Christmas Oratorio).
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