Antoine Reicha Rediscovered

Jana Franková and François-Pierre Goy

Thursday, August 4, 2022

We have received the following from Jana Franková and François-Pierre Goy:

The works of the long undeservedly forgotten French composer of Bohemian origin, Antoine Reicha (1770–1836, also known as Anton Reicha and Antonín Rejcha), have aroused renewed interest in the past decade. To celebrate his 250th birthday, the Moravian Library in Brno (Moravská zemská knihovna, MZK, RISM library siglum: CZ-Bu) and the National Library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF, RISM library siglum: F-Pn) organised two symposiums and the bilingual (French-Czech) online exhibition “Antoine Reicha redécouvert – Antonín Rejcha znovunalezený”. It opened on 25 February 2021, the eve of the composer’s anniversary, and may be visited online here. Among the featured documents are several music manuscripts from the BnF, which were either found again or reconstructed during the last years.

From 25 May 2022 on, the exhibit’s newly published catalogue may also be freely downloaded. This likewise entirely bilingual and richly illustrated book is edited by both curators of the exhibition, Jana Franková (MZK) und François-Pierre Goy (BnF), and largely focuses on the history of Reicha’s works and their sources. The nine chapters of the first part deal with the family of the composer in Bohemia (with a detailed family tree) and France; the history and characteristics of the important Reicha holdings in the BnF (with the help of previously unknown archival documents, which surfaced during the preparation of the catalogue); Reicha’s relations with Beethoven, as well as various aspects of his work: the piano music, the string quartets, the operas and the theoretical writings. In the second part – the catalogue proper – the main pieces of the exhibition are discussed. In addition, a thitherto unknown sketchbook, which was given to the BnF thanks to the exhibition, is reproduced in facsimile with commentary.

Image: Antoine Reicha, Hercule au mont Oëta, unfinished, previously unknown tragédie lyrique, autograph manuscript (1800?). Bibliothèque nationale de France, département de la Musique (F-Pn), RESERVE D-18442. Available online.

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