Today almost entirely forgotten, Reutter has been the most successful composer of opera in Vienna during the 1730s, and the single and most influential composer of church music in Vienna for three decades, enjoying the estimation of both Charles VI and Maria Theresia. The son of a court organist and music director at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Reutter studied with Antonio Caldara and, having returned from a period of study in Italy, was nominated imperial court composer in Vienna in 1730. He became first director of music at St. Stephen’s im 1738, second Hofkapellmeister in 1747 and first Hofkapellmeister in 1769. His influential position in the musical life of Vienna led to conflicts with Durazzo and Gluck which escalated in 1761. Reutter is one of the few composers who composed for the Pantaleon (salterio).
Johann Sebastian Bach was certainly familiar with the Pantaleon – a large hammered dulcimer with a wide range and full chromatic scale. Bach’s contemporary Pantaleon Hebenstreit had developed the instrument, through which he gained international renown and became one of the best-paid Dresden court musicians. The instrument enjoyed great popularity in the 18th century and was an important precursor of the fortepiano, its younger brother. Bach may have heard Hebenstreit with his Pantaleon himself, as he knew several court musicians of the Dresden orchestra personally and also performed with some of them. Whilst we cannot know if they had met in reality, our imagination has nonetheless been much exercised. What would Bach have put on his famous colleague's music stand? Very little music written for the Pantaleon has survived, although the instrument’s use in the court orchestras of Vienna and Dresden suggests that works for the harpsichord and for the violin in particular could have served for arrangements and improvisations. It is hard to imagine that Bach would have objected to a virtuoso like Hebenstreit adapting his violin sonatas for the Pantaleon.