Valentin Rathgeber

Johann Valentin Rathgeber (* 3 April 1682, Oberelsbach; † 2 June 1750, Banz Abbey) was a German composer, organist and choirmaster of the Baroque Era.

His father, an organist, gave him the first music lessons. At the beginning of the 18th century, he began studying at the University of Würzburg, initially rhetorics, mathematics and law, but later he changed the direction of the study and he continued his studies in theology.

His first position was an educator at the Julius Hospital in Würzburg. In 1707, he took the post of chamber musician and servant of the abbot of the Banz Abbey, Kilian Düring. A short time later, he joined Benedictine Order and in 1711 received the priesthood. Since then, he was organist, choirmaster and preacher at the abbey.

In the years 1729 to 1738, he undertook unapproved study trip, after his request within the framework of such innovations on the familiar musical territory was rejected by the abbot. Documented stations of this trip were Mainz, Bonn, Cologne, Trier, Stuttgart, Regensburg, Germany, Switzerland, Vienna and Styria. Compositions from this period were devoted primarily to his respective hosts. In 1738 he returned back to the abbey. The result of his illegal departure was temporary imprisonment in his cell. A short time later, he was allowed to gain his former office back. He lived in the Banz Abbey until his death. He died presumably of the gout.

Valentin Rathgeber was a very versatile and productive composer and he was one of the most popular and respected composers in the southern Germany. He composed both secular and sacred works, but the most of his output are sacred vocal works. He wrote a few hundreds of works, mainly masses (43), hymns, arias, litanies, requiems, magnificats, offertories (164), Marian antiphones (44) and also instrumental concerts (24) and songs.

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