Antoine Reicha (also known as Antonín Rejcha and Anton Reicha) was born in Prague in 1770. From the age of ten, he was brought up by his uncle, the composer Josef Reicha, with whom he learned the violin and the flute. In 1785, the family moved to Bonn, where Reicha became friends with Beethoven. From 1794 to 1799, Reicha began to earn a living teaching composition and piano in Hamburg. He then spent two years in Paris, hoping to establish a reputation as an opera composer, but it was not a success. In 1801, he moved to Vienna, where he renewed his friendship with Beethoven. He then returned to Paris in 1808, remaining there until his death in 1836. In 1818, he was appointed Professor of Fugue and Counterpoint at the Paris Conservatoire and, in the same year, married Virginie Énaust, with whom he had two daughters. In 1829, he took French nationality and succeeded Boieldieu at the Académie française in 1835.
Reicha seems to have been well-liked by the public and by his pupils, who included Berlioz, Franck, Liszt, Gounod and Onslow.
His compositions cover all the main musical forms. He also wrote influential theoretical works. Reicha said he was always looking for something new, a feature that may be seen in the compound rhythms, such as 5/8 or 7/4, the bi-tonal and polyrhythmic works, and even in experiments with quarter-tones. Much of Reicha’s music remained unpublished in his lifetime, however, and he himself was averse to organizing performances of it. As a result, most of his compositions were forgotten after his death and it is only in the last 30 years that we have begun to rediscover them.
© SYMÉTRIE 1999-2017. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Page updated on October 26th, 2016
SYMÉTRIE books and music sheet publishing