Reicha, Anton



Instrumental composer and theorist of distinction; born at Prague; a nephew and pupil of Joseph Reicha, composer, violinist and leader, afterward conductor, of the National Theatre orchestra at Bonn, which the young Anton entered as a flutist at the age of eighteen, having studied that instrument and the piano as well as the violin. Here he gained much from his friendly association with Beethoven, who at that time played the viola in this orchestra. Six years later it disbanded; Reicha settled in Hamburg, teaching piano and working industriously at an opera, Obaldi, ou les Frangais en figypte, in order to bring out which  he went to Paris in 1799. This project failing, he was consoled to some extent by the successful production of two of his symphonies and several smaller instrumental works at a noted series of concerts. From 1802 to 1808 he lived in Vienna, where he renewed his former intimacy with Beethoven, won also the friendship of Haydn, Salieri and Albrechtsberger, and published a number of compositions. The French invasion induced him to return to Paris, where he produced three comic operas, with only a fair degree of success, Cagliostro, Natalie, and Sapho. He became eminent as a teacher of composition, and among his pupils were Dancla, Elwart and Jelensperger. In 1818 he was appointed professor of composition at the Conservatory as Mehul's successor; married a Parisian woman, and became a naturalized citizen of France in 1829. He received the cross of the Legion of Honor in 1831 and became a member of the Institut in 1835, succeeding to Boieldieu's place, but died the next year of a pulmonary attack. His compositions are as follows: For orchestra, two symphonies and one overture; diecetto for five stringed and five wind-instruments; octet for four stringed and four wind-instruments. Chamber-music: twenty quartets for strings; six quartets for flute and strings; one for flutes; one for flute, cello, bassoon and piano; six trios for strings; twenty-four for horns; one for cello; six duets for violins; twenty-two for flutes, and twelve sonatas for violin; sonatas, fugues, variations, studies, etc., for piano. A number of, theoretical works from his pen were published in Paris; fitudes ou theories pour le piano; Traite de melodic; Cours de composition musicale; Traite de haute composition musicale; L'art du compositeur dramatique; also Petit traite d'harmonie pratique. As a theorist Reicha was much esteemed, his treatises being clear and logical. In his works he sought after novel effect, cleverly offsetting a lack of melodic ideas or natural inspiration.