Born: October 9, 1936 - Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died: June 4, 2006 - Danbury, Connecticut, USA
The American conductor, Richard Kapp, was born to a family with musical background. His grandfather sold sheet music from a pushcart; his father Paul Kapp started and ran General Music Publishing; an uncle, Jack Kapp, founded the American branch of Decca Records. Richard himself was a child piano prodigy, but went on to study German political history at Johns Hopkins University, receiving his BA in 1957. He went abroad on a Fulbright fellowship and studied conducting, composition, and piano at the Stuttgart Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, Germany.
Richard Kapp started his musical career as a repetiteur (vocal coach) at the Basel Stadttheater, Switzerland from 1960 to 1962. Back in the USA, he served as music director of the Opera Theater of the Manhattan School of Music in New York from 1963 to 1965. He also earned a law degree from New York University. He was pupil in conducting of Rosbaud and Halasz, in piano of Simon, and in harpsichord of Marlow; New York University, JD, 1966.
In 1968 Richard Kapp founded the chamber orchestra Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York and has been their Artistic Director since then. The orchestra became a fixture on the New York-area musical scene until it suspended concerts in 2004, when he became ill. It played often at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Town Hall, the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College and elsewhere. The orchestra attracted top-flight musicians and soloists, and its concerts featured folksy talk from the podium by Richard Kapp. His reviews were uneven, but he worked hard to present a mix of adventurous and popular works. "We don't take ourselves too seriously," he said in a 1980 interview with The New York Times. "We tend to play less intellectual, more joyous music. We look at this as entertainment, a source of pleasure." He released with his orchestra a series of classical "greatest hits" records. In 1977, he recorded "Greatest Hits of 1720" for CBS Masterworks, which became a big seller. He followed up with hit parades from 1721, 1790 and the 1900's. They were collections of generally shorter, more accessible works designed to have popular appeal. He was also a frequent presenter and vendor at AMPPR
Richard Kapp died on Sunday at his home in Danbury, Connecticut at the age of 69. The cause was cancer, said his wife, Barbara Borders Kapp. Along with his wife, he is survived by three daughters: Joanna Kapp Beacom and Alexandra Kapp Horner, both of Los Angeles, and Madeline W. Kapp, a student at the University of Toronto; a brother, Robert Kapp of Port Townsend, Wash.; a sister, Judith Keenan of Washington; and four grandchildren.
Recordings: For Candide, CBS, Murray-HiII. Turnabout. Vox and ESS.AY (a label he owned; including "Musical Evenings with the Captain" and "Roast Beef of Old England" - albums inspired by Patrick O'Brian's series of Master and Commander novels).