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Ada Richter Collection

 Collection 0021-IPAM
A composer and lecturer, Ada Richter (a.k.a. Hugo Arnold, Wilma Moore, and Eileen Gail) composed many pieces throughout her career, including musical dramas, piano solos, piano and voice pieces, and arrangements of pieces by other composers. Richter also lectured both alone and with her husband, Alfred Richter throughout the world on piano instruction. Her husband was also a composer of piano pieces and writer on piano methods and is included in the collection. The collection consists of 8.00 linear feet of concert programs, reviews, correspondence, photographs, advertisements, articles, published and unpublished scores, scrapbooks, legal documents, sketches, awards, and brochures related to Richter’s career as a composer and lecturer, her involvement in the National Maier Musical Association, and her relationships with her close colleagues, including Florence Boutwell, Guy Maier, and her husband, Alfred Richter.

Dates

  • 1908-1990
  • Majority of material found within 1938-1977

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research use.

Extent

8.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Ada Richter Collection covers the period from 1908 to 1990; the bulk of the materials date from 1938 to 1977, and the collection is 8.00 linear feet. The collection consists of both personal and professional papers including published and unpublished music, lecture notes, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, magazine and newspaper articles, programs, awards, legal documents, advertisements, and brochures related to Richter’s work as a teacher and composer, including her musical dramas, piano solos, and arrangements of pieces by other composers, as well as her lectures and articles about trends in piano teaching. This collection also includes materials related to Alfred Richter, Ada Richter’s husband.

Biography

Ada Richter Summary: Ada Richter was born August 10, 1900. Richter taught oversized classes of disadvantaged children in a poor area of New Jersey for nine years. Later she began study music with Alfred Richter, who encouraged her to compose and publish music, and she married him in 1932. Her first publication was for Schirmer; her first songbook was published by Presser. Ada also began lecturing alone (early 1940s) and together with Alfred (1950s). Toward the end of Ada's career she met with music teachers privately who wanted to become acquainted with her method. She taught only one pupil personally, her great grandson. Ada Richter died in 1988.

Ada Richter Full History: Ada Richter was born August 10, 1900. She began studying piano at age five. Her first teacher was "a young girl who played very little but taught Ada the notes." After one year she could play everything the teacher could play.

She became class accompanist in grade school. Upon graduation from high school at age fifteen she attended Camden (N.J.) Normal School to become an elementary school teacher.

In the next nine years Richter taught oversized classes of disadvantaged children in a poor area of New Jersey. At this time she also studied piano with Camille Zeckwer and Leo Ornstein at the Zeckwer-Hahn Musical Adademy in Philadelphia (now the Philadelphia College of Music and Arts). In 1921 she married her first husband; they had two children.

Her brother Dick was a very big influence in her life. He would sing show-tunes to her accompaniment. This introduced her to a world of new music, and was directly responsible for her arrangements for Warner Brothers and others.

Later she began study with Alfred Richter, whom she married in 1932. He encouraged her to compose and to get her music published. Her first publication was for Schirmer; her first songbook was published by Presser. She was so prolific a writer she was advised to take on a "nom de plume." In addition to Ada Richter she became "Hugh Arnold," "Wilma Moore," and "Eileen Gail." She even wrote words to her own music under her pen names.

Her lecture years began in the early 1940s. For some time she lectured alone. Alfred and Ada began duo lectures in the 1950s. Together they made five transcontinental tours. This ended in 1976 with Alfred's death.

Toward the end of Ada's career she met with music teachers privately who wanted to become acquainted with her method. She taught only one pupil personally, her grea tgrandson. Ada Richter died in 1988.

Alfred Richter Biographical Summary: Alfred Richter was born on December 2 1902. For several years he was piano instructor and lecturer in music history at Columbia College in South Carolina. Alfred first met Ada when he was eleven years old and later taught her composition. He encouraged her to compose and get her pieces published. Ada and Alfred were married (1932) and began lecturing together (1950's). Together they made five transcontinental tours. Alfred died in 1976.

Alfred Richter Full History: Alfred Richter was born in Wamsdorf, Austria December 2 1902. He was brought to America at age seven and studied piano with Walter Golz. Under Mr. Golz tutelage Alfred went on to win contests of the National Federation of Music Clubs. Later upon the request of his next teacher, Wilhelm Bachas, he was awarded a Scholarship to the Curtis Institute. He also studied the keyboard works of Bach under Wanda Landowska. For several years he was instructor of the piano and lecturer in music history at Columbia College in South Carolina.

Alfred first met Ada when he was eleven years old. The two re-met many years later in Philadelphia. At that time Ada began studying with Alfred. He taught her composition and encouraged her to compose and get her pieces published. Ada and Alfred were married in 1932 and began lecturing together in the 1950's. Together they made five transcontinental tours. Alfred died in 1976.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into fourteen series.
  1. Series 1: Published music by Ada Richter
  2. Series 2: Music manuscripts by Ada Richter
  3. Series 3: Writings by Ada Richter
  4. Series 4: Correspondence
  5. Series 5: Performance files
  6. Series 6: Photographs
  7. Series 7: Writings about Ada Richter
  8. Series 8: Miscellaneous
  9. Series 9: Published Music of Alfred Richter
  10. Series 10: Music manuscripts by Alfred Richter
  11. Series 11: Writings by Alfred Richter
  12. Series 12: Letters of recommendation (at beginning of career)
  13. Series 13: Musical genealogy
  14. Series 14: Scrapbooks

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Elisabeth Richter, the daughter-in-law of Ada Richter, to International Piano Archives at Maryland on July 13th, 1990.

Related Material

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Processing Information

Incorporating the Papers of Alfred Richter. An item-level inventory of photographs, published scores, manuscripts of arrangements , advertisements, brochures, and magazine articles about Ada Richter are available upon request.
Title
Ada Richter Collection
Status
Completed
Author
This collection was processed by Lincoln Cobbins under the direction of Neil Ratliff. It was revised and updated by Akiko Nakanishi.
Date
1994-12-15
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Sponsor
This collection was donated by Elisabeth Richter, the daughter-in-law of Ada Richter, on July 13th, 1990.

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States