Franz Xaver Richter

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String Quartet in C Major, Op.5 No.1

Franz Xaver Richter (1709-1789) was born in the Moravian town of Holleschau. He studied violin and composition and enjoyed a long career as a conductor and music director. He worked closely with Johann Stamitz in Mannheim and became one of the best known of the so-called Mannheim composers. The new style of the works of Stamitz, Richter and a few other composers resident in Mannheim led to a change of musical style throughout Europe and ultimately influenced Haydn and Mozart who from it were to create the Vienna Classical Style.


Op.5 No.1 in C Major is the first of a set of six string quartets, which were composed in the late 1760's. The Op.5 quartets, and the first three in particular, are important in the history of chamber music and of the string quartet in particular. By the mid 18th century, players of the lower voices no longer were content to simply play the passive part of harmonic filler, essentially the successor role of the figured bass. Hence composers sought to create some kind of melodic interest in the lower parts.


Richter in Op.5 No.1 shows how the problem could be solved and gives nearly as much thematic passage work to the viola and cello as the violins. In the first movement, Allegro con brio, the viola and cello are given several solo episodes, extraordinary, if not unique, for this time. In addition, the lovely duet between the viola and cello has no precedent. Richter demonstrates just how far his thinking had advanced in that the bass is rarely used simply as a rhythmic beater and he never has the viola and cello double each other in octaves. Richter continues to show how the viola and cello could be used in each of the succeeding two movements, Andante and Rincontro, presto.


While works from this period, today, are never considered great masterpieces, nonetheless, the best of them, such as this one, not only show from what foundation Haydn and Mozart were to build, and hence are of historical importance, but also are well-written and enjoyable to perform.


(A) String Quartet Op.5 No.1---Parts


(B) Special Offer Op.5 Nos.1-3---Parts


(C) Special Offer Op.5 Nos.1-3---Parts & Scores to Nos. 2 & 3





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