30. Januar 2008

Remembering the Era Karl Richter in Munich: Year 1954 ff. [EN]

In 1954 and the following years Karl Richter was able to win famous Interpreters for his Bach Orchestra: Edgar Shann, a Swiss from Lutry on Lake Geneva, Aurèle Nicolet from Neuchatel and Peter-Lukas Graf from Zurich, Paul Meisen from Hamburg, Kurt Hausmann from Wuerzburg and Manfred Clement from Munich as well as Kurt-Christian Stier from the Bavarian State Theatre as Concertmaster.

Edgar Shann (Oboe) and Karl Richter (Harpsichord)

Aurèle Nicolet

"The first thing I heard from Karl Richter were the Goldberg-Variations 1956 in Ansbach. I did not know this piece of work but was in the general rehearsal with him. He played it for me and I was very impressed. It was like a vision of the complete Works. I had never heard Bach like that before. I was also present at the concert, which was more than criticized by Carl Seemann and Elisabeth Picht-Axenfeld, the Bach experts of that time. They stood up during the concert and said, “This is not Bach!!” However, I found it wonderful, I was very deeply moved."

Aurèle Nicolet (Flute)

Paul Meisen

I first met Karl Richter in Hamburg, where he performed the Brandenburg Concerto from J.S. Bach in two Concerts. I too had been requested to join the Chamber Orchestra for this concert. Richter had hoped, that the Hamburg Concerts would develop further, but nothing materialized after this one concert. He was rather disappointed, that most of the members of the Chamber Orchestra also performed in other Chamber Music Societies and he felt, that the central focusing was not what it should have been. I was the only one he took from this formation to play in his Orchestra and Choir performances in Munich.

Paul Meisen (Flute)

Kurt Hausmann

In the Wuerzburg Music Academy in those days we had a teacher named Heinz Endres. He came from Munich and was one of the first to act as Karl Richter’s Concertmaster. It was not an easy feat to assemble an orchestra for six performances of the Matthew Passion abroad and Richter had asked Endres: “Haven’t you got a few good people in Wuerzburg?” Endres had then said: “Yes, an Oboe, a Violin and a Viola.”

I traveled to Munich for rehearsals, and from there with the train to Italy. The first performance was in Trieste, then in Florence, Turin and the last performance was in Rome. There we had planned a seating rehearsal, Richter however wanted to try something out, because a new tenor had arrived. And my dear colleague from Munich did not have his oboe with him, because it was only a seating rehearsal.

Then came the great aria “Ich will bei meinem Jesus wachen” and Richter looked in my direction and asked: “Could you take over from here? I want to practice a few beats”. “Yes of course”, I replied. He began and had the whole piece; it is pretty long and accompanied by the choir, played right through to the end. The last note had hardly faded before applause and stamping came from the choir at the back, I was almost lost. At the end Richter came to me and said: “Where are you from? I don’t know you, but tonight you have to play the solo.” I replied: “Herr Richter, that is impossible. I can’t do that out of respect for my colleagues, but if you want me to I’ll gladly come to you in Munich.” ..."

Manfred Clement and Kurt Hausmann (Oboe)

Peter-Lukas Graf

"At the end of the fifties I came to Munich to prepare for an occupational change from orchestra flautist to opera conductor

I still played the flute and did not want to stop completely. And since in those days in Switzerland I had given concerts with the only good Cembalist, Eduard Mueller, Munster organist from Basel. I asked him: “What shall I do in Munich? Do you know anybody there?” He answered: Of course! Karli is there, go to Karli, give him my best regards and tell him he should play with you”. Richter was naturally a known name for me but nothing more.

So I came to Munich and saw an advertisement for Handel-Organ concerts in the Markuskirche. I went to the Concert. Unfortunately I had a seat from which I was not able to see the gallery, so I was not able to see Richter, who I did not know. But it was one of the very few Concerts in my life, where I was fascinated from the first to the last note and the way the music was performed filled me with a sort of exaltation. Afterwards I went up to the gallery to look for Richter. There was practically no-one left. Just one person was walking around wearing a Mackintosh, looking rather inconspicuous. I asked him: “Could you tell me, who is Mr. Richter?” He gave me a curious look and said “Yours truly”. That was my first meeting with Karl Richter."

Peter-Lukas Graf (Flute)

Kurt-Christian Stier

"I was engaged for the first Christmas oratorio in Richter’s Orchestra and that’s how I got to know him and the Bach Choir. That must have been around the end of the fifties. I first came to Munich in 1954, joined the state Opera in 1958 and within only a short time became Concertmaster. I did not have to do an audition for Richter as, I was already known from the Opera. After some time I also became Concertmaster of the famous Bach-Orchestra."

Kurt-Christian Stier (Concertmaster)