Franz Xaver Richter, known as François Xavier Richter in France was an Austro-Moravian singer, violinist, composer, conductor and music theoretician who spent most of his life first in Austria and later in Mannheim and in Strasbourg, where he was music director of the cathedral. From 1783 on Haydn’s favourite pupil Ignaz Pleyel was his deputy at the cathedral.
The most traditional of the first generation composers of the so-called Mannheim school, he was highly regarded in his day as a contrapuntist. As a composer he was equally at home in the concerto and the strict church style. Mozart heard a mass by Richter on his journey back from Paris to Salzburg in 1778 and called it charmingly written. Richter, as a contemporary engraving clearly shows, must have been one of the first conductors to actually have conducted with a music sheet roll in his hand.
Richter wrote chiefly symphonies, concertos for woodwinds, trumpet, chamber and church music, his masses receiving special praise. He was a man of a transitional period, and his symphonies in a way constitute one of the missing links between the generation of Bach and Handel and the Viennese classic.