Easter oratorio by František Xaver Richter

In today’s Easter Sunday music program we’ll be listening to an excerpt from the only Italian oratorio by František Xaver Richter, an 18th century Czech composer, musician and teacher, and one of the main representatives of the so-called Mannheim School.

Franz Xaver Richter | Photo: Christophe Guérin,  Wikimedia Commons/Gallica Digital Library,  public domain

František Xaver Richter was born in 1709 in Holešov near the town of Zlín but spent his entire life abroad, studying music in Vienna and Italy. In 1746, he became a member of the famous Mannheim orchestra and found himself at the very centre of the progressive European music scene.

Although his chamber and orchestral works significantly contributed to the newly developing classicist style, he never gave up his traditional baroque technique. His oratorio, called La Deposizione dalla croce di Gesú Cristo, combines the achievements of the early classicist style with the baroque composition principles.

The Mannheim court church of The Visitation of Our Lady | Photo: Beckstet,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 3.0

It is a Good-Friday pondering of Jesus’s disciples over God’s unconditional love and Christ’s suffering on the cross.  It was performed on Good Friday in 1748 in the Mannheim court church of The Visitation of Our Lady for the first and most likely the only time ever.

The oratorio was recorded in 2016 by the Czech Ensemble Baroque Orchestra and Czech Ensemble Baroque Choir, conducted by Roman Válek, with Katřina Kněžíková and Jaroslav Březina in the lead roles.