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International Piano Archives at Maryland

Hours:

By appointment,
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday through Friday

Contact:

Donald Manildi
IPAM Curator
 
Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library
University of Maryland
2511 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park, MD 20742-1630
(301) 405-9224
E-mail: godowsky@umd.edu


Ada Richter Collection

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 and she became a class accompanist in grade school.Photograph of Ada Richter, pianist

Upon graduation from high school at age fifteen, she attended Camden (N.J.) Normal School to become an elementary school teacher. For 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, with whom she 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 and her first songbook was published by Presser. She was so prolific a writer that 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 great-grandson. Ada Richter died in 1988.

* Boutwell, Florence. "The Richters: Ada and Alfred." (unpublished)

SERIES DESCRIPTION

SERIES I - PUBLISHED MUSIC

  • Published scores
  • Music Published in magazines

This series, 68 items, is located in Box 1.

SERIES II - MUSIC MANUSCRIPTS

Contents of this series are organized in the following order, and found in Boxes 2 and 3.

  • Manuscripts of original pieces. (Box 2) 
  • Manuscripts of arrangements by Ada Richter. (Box 3)
  • Sketches and unused material. (Box 3)

SERIES III - WRITINGS BY ADA RICHTER

This series comprises published articles, lecture notes, and outlines of lectures. This series is located in Box 4.

SERIES IV - CORRESPONDENCE

Here are found 18 letters. Some are to Ada Richter from publishers, others are from Ada Richter to publishers. Letters from family members are also included. This series is located in Box 4.

SERIES V - PERFORMANCE FILE

This series comprises programs of Ada Richter music performed by other musicians, including Alfred Richter. Ada Richter seldom performed as a solo concert artist, therefore no programs of hers are in this file. This series is located in Box 4.

SERIES VI - PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are found 21 photographs, some of children performing Ada Richter musical dramas; others are portraits of Ada and Alfred. This series is located in Box 5.

SERIES VII - Writings about Ada Richter

Here are found various writings about Ada Richter, Ada and Alfred Richter, and the music of Ada Richter. This series is found in Boxes 6 and 7.

  • Magazine articles (Box 6)
  • Newspaper articles (Box 6) 
  • Reviews of Ada Richter Music (Box 7)
  • Advertisements and brochures for Richter music (Box 7)

SERIES VIII - MISCELLANEOUS

This series, located in Box 8, contains various documents relating to the personal life of Ada Richter.

  • Legal documents 
  • Awards
  • Guy Maier workshops
  • Music scores of other composers