Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner

Karl Forster (Conductor)

Born: August 1, 1904 - Grossklenau near Tirschenreuth, Germany
Died: August 13, 1963 - Tirschenreuth, Germany

The German choir conductor, cathedral kapellmeister and composer, Karl Forster. studied from 1915 to 1923 at Humanisti High School of the Benediktinerklosters Metten. From 1923 to 1928 he attended philosophical-theological studies in Regensburg, 1928 Priest award, 1928-29 Kaplan in Kulmain. From 1929 to 1933 he studied at the State Academy of Fine Arts and at the Ludwig Maximilian’s University Munich: Church music (Ludwig Berberich), composition (Joseph Haas), music science (Gustav Friedrich Schmidt, R. Ficker), 1933 graduation, 1933-34 Präfekt and lecturer at the Church School of music Regensburg.

Karl Forster led the Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale Berlin (Choir of the of St. Hedwig’s Cathedral Berlin) from 1934 to 1963 as a cathedral kapellmeister. Forster became in 1951 papal secret treasurer and in 1961 papal Hausprälat. From 1952 to 1963 he was director of music studies at the Free and Technical University of Berlin and directed the College of Music there. Forster received the music prize of the city Berlin in 1953 - already after few years.

Karl Forster could present the newly formed boy choir of the St. Hedwig’s Cathedral in the considerable strength of almost 60 boys of the public. He gave it gradually occupation conditions, which distinguished its performances later. Besides, the mixed choir continued to exist, which had at that time about 35 members. Both choirs became detached in the service at the cathedral, and to the big concert meetings in the Philharmonic Concert Hall. At that time both groups of choirs united to impressive performances - the work with the Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale Berlin meant even in hard time everything for Forster. It was his life's work. The members of the choir sacrificed all their strength, for he used them regardless of the ever more unfavorably becoming layer even of this singing community. From the effects of the National Socialist policy and finally the war suffered above all the boy choir, in 1943 it was forbidden by the ruling powers. The final end came in 1943 with the destruction of the St. Hedwig’s Cathedral.

In July 1945 the choir could sing its first performance in the new Berlin’s broadcast, in September 1945 the already formed choir gave again its first a-cappella-concert. The Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale Berlin closed up almost like naturally in destroyed Berlin representative functions: As only intact choir of the post-war period it sang in services and concerts the great works of the choir literature and became in the simple sense of the word an Berlin’s Ambassador of the spirit - with the establishment of the GDR the St. Hedwig’s Cathedral fell to the East sector, when Berlin became the ‘four-sector city’. The choir was attached now the Johannes-Basilika in Kreuzberg; the rehearsals took place in the hall of the St. Clemens Church. The choirists originating from the East sector became however in the course of the years ever more with difficulty, after 13 August 1961 not possibly to come to rehearsals and performances to West Berlin - hardly surveyable is the abundance of its broadcasting, its concert tours and above all its records, which belonged to the highest level of performance and production at that time and praised in the whole world the name of Berlin. The concerts of the Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale became permanent constituent of the Berlin’s music life, because its repertoire was large enough, from the old masters over the classical authors up to the modern ones like Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Paul Hindemith, Luigi Dallapiccola, Blacher and Benjamin Britten.

The criticism particularly emphasizes that it by its strict, conscious the contribution to the style development by their musical interpretation of Bach’s programmes. On the basis of the a-cappella-singing Forster developed a choir style, which is characterized by stimulous gloss, distinct well-being sound and great objectivity of the lecture - the actual creative abundance got its working by the extremely lucky connection of the artist, humans and the priest Forster his artistic inspiration originated directly from the faith, which it served as a priest. So he knew the liturgical character of its office and its choir transferred to the concert hall. The gloss-full high point of the tours was a concert, which the choir was allowed to give in May 1961 in a private audience for Pope Johannes XXIII. For the Renaissance it was the first time that a concert in the private room of the Vatican took place.

Karl Forster's work for the modern media of broadcast and record production determined a further page of its work. Particularly in recordings, for which he had responsibility ever more frequently not only than choir conductor, but also the comprehensive conductor, he interpreted the great works of sacred music yardstick-setting. - the stylistic periphery, which Forster with his choir paced down, covered an amazing abundance of contrasts. His mental homeland was beside the Gregorian and the Netherlands poliphony, the world of Bruckner. However Forster had to fulfill the most difficult functions with eorks of the contemporary music, from Edward Elgar's Dream of the Gerontius, through I. Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms and Béla Bartók's Cantata Profana Die Zauberhirsche, up to Luigi Dallapiccola’s Canti di Prigionia.

Source: Verlag Traugott Bautz Website (German), Author: Heiko Bockstiegel (November 2000), English translation by Aryeh Oron (August 2001)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (August 2001)

Karl Forster: Short Biography | Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale Berlin | Recordings of Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

FORSTER, Karl (Verlag Traugott Bautz) [German]


Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


Back to the Top

Last update: Monday, May 29, 2017 04:33