Antonín Reichenauer. A Catalogue of His Works (Rk)


Antonín Reichenauer was one of several composers working in Prague during the peak Baroque heyday of the 1720s. He belonged to the virtuoso musique of Count Wenzel Morzin and composed for Jesuits, barefoot Carmelites, and other religious orders, especially in the Lesser Town of Prague. His compositions were famous, as evidenced by the number of them acquired for Prague Loreta in 1727/28 by the new choirmaster Konstantin Anton Taubner, or by the inventory of the music collection of Prague Knights of the Cross with a Red Star from 1737, in which Reichenauer is one of the most abundant Prague composers. However, as early as the end of the 18th century, Reichenauer was essentially forgotten. Its name did not even penetrate the lists of entries of the large music encyclopedias of the 19th century. In the 20th century, Emilián Trolda rediscovered Reichenauer, but nationally focused Czech musicology has long left him completely unnoticed.

So far, we don't have factual information about the origin of the composer. His oldest known trace dates back to the beginning of 1722 when his son was hastily baptized in the Maltese Church of the Our Lady under the Chain in Prague's Lesser Town. Since then, records in Prague parish registries concerning the baptisms and deaths of the composer's children provide information about the fate of his family. We can also trace his residences or the personalities of the Prague (not only) music world with whom the composer met on these occasions. Since 1723, the records cite Reichenauer as the musician of Count Wenzel Morzin, a well-known music lover and one of the patrons of Antonio Vivaldi. Reichenauer is also traceable in Morzin's account book. At the end of 1729, the composer and his family moved to Jindřichův Hradec under still unclear circumstances, where he became the organist. However, after less than a month in this capacity, he died only thirty-five years old.

The composer's significance lies primarily in the fact that entire segments of musical genres within his oeuvre have been preserved, which we do not know from other composers working in the Czech lands of the time; it is mainly ensemble instrumental music, especially a solo concerto. However, Reichenauer's sacred compositions provide an extraordinary account of what music by local artists has been successful in the choirs of Prague's churches. The unique large group of Reichenauer's works in the music collection of the Prague Cathedral tells us also a lot about the local performing practice.