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The origins of the wind quintet 

Antoine Reicha (1770-1836) is a composer of Czech origin, who also lived in Hamburg and Vienna before finally settling in Paris in 1808. He obtained French citizenship after having taught for many years at the Conservatoire National de musique de Paris. It was in this city that he claimed to have composed the first work for the formation of the now traditional wind quintet in 1811, but it would seem that the palm should rather go to Nikolaus Schmidt, author of three works now lost. Following his first experience that he considered a failure, Reicha composed "in a new style more appropriate to the nature of wind instruments ", the largest body of works to date for this ensemble: 4 groups 6 wind quintets, opus numbers 88, 91, 99 and 100. All works are of symphonic dimensions, in some cases up to 45 minutes in lenght, where the sonata form - the term used for the first time by Reicha! - was developed in an original way.


Recent research put a new light on Reicha's works and allow us to better understand his compositions and in many ways their avant-garde nature. 


Friend of Beethoven and Haydn, Reicha was the professor of Berlioz, Franck, Gounod, Liszt and Thomas and also influenced a large number of composers by his writings.


Between 1810 and 1820, Antoine Reicha or Antonin Rejcha, a great traveler and a man of multiple nationalities will consciously attempt a synthesis of Viennese and Parisian styles in his wind quintets. A unique and original musical experience that seems even more relevant today.


We are witnessing in recent years a renewed interest in Reicha’s writings and works and a welcomed rehabilitation of the works of Reicha and its place in the evolution of musical history.


This conference will address the following questions:


Why did Reicha write wind quintets and why more than 24? What is the originality of his style? Historically, where does this ensemble come from? Why does it have this unique combination of instruments? Who composed wind quintets in the nineteenth century and who did not? Why? What role did Reicha  play in the development of the wind quintet, and what should be his place in  concert venues today?

Suggested program

Ventus Machina present


« The origins of the wind quintet »

1 major quintet by Reicha


Excerpts from the works of his students at the Conservatoire de Paris and contemporary composers:


  • Briccialdi

  • Cambini

  • Danzi

  • Franzl

  • Gopfert

  • Lickl

  • Lindner

  • Mengal

  • Lachner

  • Onslow

  • Rinck

  • ...


Despite  a widespread misconception, the repertoire for wind quintet was flourishing throughout the course of the nineteenth century. Nearly fifty composers have written at least one work for this ensemble. 

Here are a few ...


Alexander Nokolaivich Aliabiev, Siegfried Benzon, Algernon Bennet Langton Ashton, Adrien Barthe, Siegfried Benzon. Giulio Briccialdi, Henri Brod, Andreas Brunmayer, Giuseppe Maria Cambini, Johannes Meinardus Coenen, Franz Danzi, Camillo De Nardis, Adolphe Edouard Marie Deslandres, Ignaz Franzl, Hugo Fricke, François-René Gebauer, Carl Andreas Gopfert, Louis Théodore Gouvy, Joseph Holbrooke, Franz Kaver Kleinheinz, Franz Lachner, Charles Lefèvre, Johann Georg Lickl, Friedrich Lindner, Wilhelm Mangold, Martin Joseph Mengal, Emanuel Moor, Peter Muller, George Onslow, E. Paer, Émile Louis Pessard, Georges Jean Pfeiffer, Peter Rasmussen, Ottorino Respighi, Julius Rietz, Johann Christian Heinrich Rinck, Andreas Jakob Romberg, Francesco Antonio Rosetti, Nikolaus Schmid, Johann Sobek, Paul Claude Taffanel, Bohumil Vendler, James Waterson, Joseph Miroslav Weber, Carli Zoller

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