The American composer Marga Richter was born on today’s date in 1926, in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. She began piano lessons by age 4, composing at age 12, and had her first work performed when she was in high school in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, where her family had moved so she could study at the MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis. The family moved again in 1943, this time to New York, so Marga could attend the Juilliard School.
She would recall, “I really didn’t notice that there weren’t any women composers to model myself after until I got to Juilliard, and then I found I was the only one there."
She persisted as a composer, and a New York Times reviewer of a concert of her music in 1951 found it “restless, inventive, dissonant, clean … her intentions seemed … well realized,” adding, “We will hear more from Miss Richter.”
That said, it took decades for her nearly 200 works, which range from operas and orchestra scores to chamber works for solo instrument, to earn increasing respect and performances both here and abroad.
Marga Richter died in 2020, at the age of 93, in New Jersey.
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