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Marga Richter


Publication Year: 2012

This is the first full-length introduction to the life and works of significant American composer Marga Richter (born 1926), who has written more than one hundred works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, dance, opera, voice, chorus, piano, organ, and harpsichord. Still actively composing in her eighties, Richter is particularly known for her large-scale works performed by ensembles such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and for other pieces performed by prominent artists including pianist Menahem Pressler, conductor Izler Solomon, and violinist Daniel Heifetz. _x000B__x000B_Interspersing consideration of Richter's musical works with discussion of her life, her musical style, and the origins and performances of her works, Sharon Mirchandani documents a successful composer's professional and private life throughout the twentieth century. Mirchandani covers Richter's formative years, her influences, and the phases of her career from the 1950s to the present. Drawing extensively on interviews with the composer, Mirchandani also provides detailed descriptions of Richter's scores and uses reviews and other secondary sources to provide contexts for her works, including their relationship to modern dance, to other musical styles, and to 1970s feminism._x000B_

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Women Composers

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xviii

I first became aware of Marga Richter’s music in 2003 when I was preparing to teach a course on women in music and listened to the audio cassette for Diane Jezic’s...

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1. The Early Years: 1926–1951

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pp. 1-23

On October 21 , 1926, Florence Marga Richter was born in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, the heart of the American Midwest. The strong musical upbringing Marga Richter received, combined...

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2. Modern Dance and the MGM Recordings: 1951–1960

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pp. 24-45

After her graduation from Juilliard, Richter moved to 308 West 107th Street, where she enjoyed having her first apartment all to herself. Living in New York City with its myriad...

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3. Fragments: 1960s

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pp. 46-57

U.S. composers in the 1960s (e.g., Carter, Varèse, Babbitt, and Cage) gravitated toward total serialism, electronic music, or chance music. Richter never found these styles appealing and did not adopt them. She did reluctantly respond to the trend of composing sparse...

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4. Landscapes: 1970s

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pp. 58-84

During the 1970s Richter created some of her most important works: two large-scale orchestral scores, Landscapes of the Mind I and Blackberry Vines and Winter Fruit; two chamber music...

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5. Expansion: 1980s

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pp. 85-101

The compositional atmosphere of the 1980s was extraordinarily varied. Some composers continued to compose serial, electronic, and chance music. Others wrote sound-mass music and sound poetry, used environmental sounds, and became performance...

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6. Culmination: 1990s

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pp. 102-112

During the 1990s, the compositional world was still fragmented with composers working in serial and electronic music, performance art, and numerous other styles. Richter continued to prefer working in traditional mediums and created music for chorus, orchestra, opera...

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7. Blooming: 2000s–Present

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pp. 113-128

Since the year 2000, Richter has composed music of a more intimate nature, employing a simpler harmonic and melodic language but still embodying her distinctive voice. These works include several song cycles, some of a humorous nature, a variety of chamber music...

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pp. 129-130

Taking old age in stride, Richter has not thought of retiring and remains focused on composition. She continues to spend summers in Vermont and enjoys the beauty around her and visiting with professional colleagues, friends, and family. In her zest for living and her dedication to her art, Richter is a role model for younger composers and performers...


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pp. 131-136


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pp. 137-148


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pp. 149-152


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pp. 153-160


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pp. 161-170

E-ISBN-13: 9780252094491
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252037313

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Women Composers

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Subject Headings

  • Richter, Marga.
  • Composers -- United States -- Biography.
  • Women composers -- United States -- Biography.
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