26. März 2008

Remembering the Era Karl Richter in Munich: Year 1967 ff. [EN]

The last years of the decade brought great success all over the world to Karl Richter and his ensemble. In Spring 1967 he led again a concert trip to Italy and Switzerland, during which Hermann Baumann made his celebrated debut. This tour led first of all to Parma, where on the occasion of Arturo Toscanini’s 100th Birthday, Bach’s Mass in B-minor was performed in the Teatro Regio.

Karl Richter entry in the guest book at the Toscanini-Museums in Parma

The tour then returned to Switzerland for the Bach Festival in Schaffhausen. In Muenster there was a Organ and Motet concert including, the Bach Motet 'Jesu meine Freude', and in the Johannis Church the B-minor Mass resounded once again. It was this work, that in turn determined the further stations of the journey: Geneve, Lausanne, Turino, Lucca and Vicenza.

Concert poster Geneva

In September 1967 Karl Richter together with Choir and Orchestra was invited to Concerts in Montreal as Germany’s Cultural contribution to the World Exhibition. Further concerts, each time with Bach’s B-minor Mass and Haydn’s Schoepfung followed in Washington and in New York.

Departure in Munich-Riem

The Washington Post music critic, Alan Kriegsman, voiced his praise with words like, pristine, ductile, homogeneous, admirable, articulate, magnificent. And Harold Schonberg, from the New York Times, a leading critics in this time, wrote: “everything was radiant and pure, everyone was united, each and everyone made music”.

J. F. Kennedy’s grave in Arlington, VA

In 1968 and 1970 Karl Richter, with his Bach Choir and Bach Orchestra, were guest stars in Russia (than UdSSR), in 1968 the B-minor Mass and the St. John Passion, were to be heard in the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow and in the Grand Philharmonic Hall in Leningrad. Two years later besides the B-minor mass, Haydn’s 'Jahreszeiten' were also part of the program.

Lotte Schaedle

"The Russians were enraptured. We had a quarter of an hour’s applause! Then on top of that I received a letter, sent to the Bavarian State Opera by a 19 year old Russian. He wrote a 28 page hymn of praise about the concerts, that had taken place in Russia."

Ursula Buckel

"In Moscow we performed the Johannes Passion in the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. The listeners came in through the upper windows, the students went up into the attic to get the chance of hearing us. They almost crowded us out, and kept asking why we were performing just one time, for so many people. But it hadn’t been planned."

Concert poster in Moscow

"It was a fantastic atmosphere and absolute silence reigned, when we had finished. And then suddenly footsteps could be hear, very slow footsteps. There was a little old lady with a headscarf and she had three or four flowers in her hand, she walked all the way from the back of the hall, right up to Richter in the front and gave him the flowers.

The concert was packed out and I saw a very big man sitting in the third row, he was wearing Jeans but was otherwise dressed like a Cossack, with moustache and black hair, in any case I said to myself, what is he doing in a B-minor Mass? He didn’t fit into the concert at all, and then I looked at him again and saw, that he spoke every tone or sang the music very softly, right through the whole Mass."

Kieth Engen

"There was quite an exultation, because it was the first time they had heard the Johannes Passion in such perfection. And above all it was young people. Maybe that was the connection between the young choir and these young listeners here in Moscow. In Leningrad it had been in a magnificent classical Concert Hall, with a completely different audience, a more mature audience, an audience that had also been enraptured but in a different way."

Hertha Toepper

"The hall in the Tchaikovsky Conservatory was beautiful. I almost tripped over a step, because I was so astonished by the Medallions with portraits of composers on the walls; I stood opposite Schubert and Wagner. The acoustic was wonderful. You can always experience this, when the piano starts the 'Agnus Dei' and the hall immediately takes it up. It was the same in Leningrad in the Philharmonic Hall."

Rehearsal at the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonia