Rathgeber was born in Oberelsbach. His father, an organist, gave him his first music lessons. At the beginning of the 18th century, he began studying at the University of Würzburg, initially studying rhetoric, mathematics and law; later he changed direction and continued his studies in theology.
His first position was as a teacher at the Julius Hospital in Würzburg. In 1707 he took up the post of chamber musician and servant of the abbot of the Banz Abbey, Kilian Düring. A short time later he joined the Benedictine Order, and in 1711 entered the priesthood. Thereafter, he was organist, choirmaster and preacher at the abbey.
He requested permission from the abbot to undertake a study trip, but was turned down. Despite this, he went anyway, and between 1729 and 1738 visited much of the familiar musical territory.
Documented stops on this trip were Mainz, Bonn, Cologne, Trier, Stuttgart, Regensburg, Germany, Switzerland, Vienna and Styria. Compositions from this period were primarily dedicated to his respective hosts. In 1738 he returned to the abbey, where as a result of his illegal departure he was temporarily imprisoned in his cell. A short time later, he was allowed to regain his former office. He lived in the Banz Abbey until his death there, at the age of 68, which was attributed to gout.
Rathgeber was a very versatile and productive composer and was one of the most popular and respected composers in southern Germany. He composed both secular and sacred works, the majority of his output being sacred vocal works. He wrote several hundred works, mainly masses (43), hymns, arias, litanies, requiems, magnificats, offertories (164), Marian antiphons (44) and also instrumental concertos (24) and songs. His Augsburger Tafel-Confect, short for Ohren-vergnügendes und Gemüth-ergötzendes Tafel-Confect (Augsburg Table Confectionery, short for Table Confectionery, Pleasuring the Ears and Delightful to the Soul) is a collection of songs meant to be performed for dessert, whereas a Tafelmusik was performed during a main course. He published three editions of his work in 1733, 1737 and 1739, Johann Caspar Seyfert adding a fourth in 1746.
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- Augsburger Tafel-Confect
- Opus I Octava musica clavium octo musicarum in Missis octo musicalibus (mass compositions)
- Opus II (vespers)
- Opus III (masses)
- Opus IV (offertories with instrumental accompaniment)
- Opus V (antiphons for the church year)
- Opus VI (secular instrumental works)
- Opus VII (masses for the church year)
- Opus VIII (requiem and Libera)
- Opus IX Psalmodia vespertina (vespers cycle)
- Opus X (Latin and German arias)
- Opus XI (hymns)
- Opus XII (rural and town masses)
- Opus XIII (Miserere and Tantum ergo)
- Opus XIV (offertories cycle in 3 parts)
- Opus XV (offertories)
- Opus XVI (antiphons)
- Opus XVII (vesper cycle)
- Opus XVIII (litanies)
- Opus XIX (masses)
- Opus XX (offertories)
- „Alleweil ein wenig lustig“ - Musikalische Leckerbissen aus dem Ohren-vergnügenden und Gemüth-ergötzenden Tafel-Confect Valentin-Rathgeber-Gesellschaft (in German)
- Valentin Rathgeber (1682 - 1750): "Augsburgisches Tafel-Confect" musica-dei-donum.org
- Free scores by Valentin Rathgeber at the International Music Score Library Project
- Free scores by Valentin Rathgeber in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
- Messe von Muri, Concerti. Capella Murensis, ensemble arcimboldo, Direction: Johannes Strobl / Thilo Hirsch. Audite, 2007.