This is my enty for the Secrets of Organ Playing Contest, Week 58. This week I play one of my favorite compositions of Ernst Friedrich Richter, his trio opus 20 nr 4, based on the melody of "Jesu meine Freude".
Ernst Friedrich Eduard Richter (1808 – 1879), was a German musical theorist, born at Großschönau, Saxony. He first studied music at Zittau, and afterwards at Leipzig, where he attained so high a reputation that in 1843 he was appointed professor of harmony and counterpoint at the conservatorium of music, then newly founded by Felix Mendelssohn. Up to 1847 he conducted the Singakademie; he was afterwards organist successively of the Peterskirche (1851) and the Neukirche and Nicolaikirche (1862). On the death of Moritz Hauptmann in 1868, he was elected cantor of Thomasschule zu Leipzig, conducting the Thomanerchor, an office he retained until his death. Nowadays he is mostly remembered as author of three books about harmony and counterpoint.
Richter’s opus 20 is a collection of 6 Trio’s, of which 5 are based on a choral melody. They are all well-crafted works, although they must have sounded old-fashioned at the time they were written. In these Trio’s Richter shows a thourough understanding of counterpoint and voice leading. They are often reminiscent of a Baroque aria in which the solo voice is accompanied by a small instrumental ensemble. Unvariably, they are beautiful pieces.
The fourth of them is to my ears the most beautiful of the six Trios. It's first bar is one of staggering beauty with first an interval of a minor sixth, achingly beautiful in itself, and on the second half of the bar an augmented fifth as harmony. The choral melody is played alternatingly with both hands. And both hands get to play the beautiful accompaniment.
A very bad and hardly readable scan of Richter’s opus 20 is available on imslp. To make playing these trio’s easier for me, I decided to transcribe them. I'm glad I did. They are worth the trouble of practising and and very satisfying to play. Especially the fourth one. For anyone who wants to try them his/herself: you could of course download them from imslp. But I dare say, the version on my website is better readable and better playable.