4. März 2008

Remembering the Era Karl Richter in Munich: Year 1960 ff. [EN]

In the following years Karl Richter, with his Munich Bach-Choir and Bach-Orchestra put all of Johann Sebastian Bach’s greatest choral and orchestral works onto Grammophone Records for the Deutsche Grammophon Company: in 1961 the High Mass in b-minor, which was awarded the Deutsche Grammophon Review Prize, 1964 the St. John Passion and in 1965 the Christmas Oratorio.

In February 1962, in March 1963 and in May 1965 Karl Richter, as guest conductor with the Munich Bach-Choir and Bach-Orchestra in Paris in the Salle Pleyel, successfully presented Bach’s Mass in b-minor, the St. John Passion, the Cantata 'Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen' and the Mozart’s Requiem.

Plakat at the Salle Pleyel, Paris 1961

Ansbacher Bachwoche (Bach week)

Hertha Toepper

"We were in Neuendettelsau we stayed in the convent. Next door to Auréle Nicolet or whoever was there for rehearsals. We were looked after by Dr. Weymer and very precisely looked after. We had rehearsals in different places, and on every corner there was one of his helpers to tell us where to carry on to. The midday meal was in the Palmhouse and that was also planned in advance. If someone did not want to eat pork for example, that was taken into account of as well as other such problems. Or the next day was for all the reviews. Every thing was taken into consideration and it went without saying that every wish no matter how small was fulfilled.

Bach in Ansbach, those were magical moments. The music making was wonderful. At every music stand there were concertmasters, who where changed from one performance to the next, they really waited on us. Yes it was beautiful, really beautiful. Richter’s musical performance was of course fantastic."

Ursula Buckel, Kieth Engen und Hertha Toepper (Ansbach 1963)

Kieth Engen

"It was a wonderful time, the life we lead in Neuendettelsau. There in that little village our time was spent just for Johann Sebastian Bach. All we did was to practice and rehearse: then we were driven by bus to Ansbach in the Gumbertus Church to perform our Concerts. There were many well-loved colleagues present, Peter Pears, Fritz Wunderlich, Ursula Buckel and Marga Hoeffgen were there as well and of course, Hertha Toepper. I sang all my life with Hertha Toepper at the Opera and in Karl Richter’s Concerts. She was an exceptionally gifted Bach singer. The time spent in Ansbach maybe laid the Bach foundations for me. I am very grateful to have had the experience."

Irmhild Reges

"The greatest fun for us was, when the male members of the Bach-Choir played football against the members of the Orchestra and the soloists. On a radiant Sunday the prettiest girls belonging to the choir had got dressed up to the nines and, with all manner of clattering instruments, placed themselves behind the goal creating a glorious distraction. Ernst Haefliger stood on the sidelines giving a commentary of the game just like a radio reporter. We admired how unbelievably sportive Auréle Nicolet and Otto Buechner were. Two or three of the girls from the choir had made a laurel wreath for the winners Otto Buechner and Paul Meisen. It was tremendous fun for all of us."

Paul Meisen and Otto Buechner wearing the winners wreath (Ansbach 1961)

Paul Meisen

"Ansbach’s Special flair laid most of all in the community spirit that developed and became stronger every day. One lived so to say together. The football played a role sometimes too, one that surely welded us even more together. But it was of course the musical things that joined us together most of all. It was exactly the same as later in the Munich period, which I was lucky to be a part of; the peculiar character of this time indelibly marked by the central figure of Karl Richter."

Rehearsal in the Gumbertuskirche (Ansbach 1961)

In 1964 for the last time, Karl Richter and his ensemble arranged and took part in the Bachwoche in Ansbach. They decided to arrange from now on a Bach festival on their own in Munich.