Josef Bohuslav Foerster Biography (BBC)
As was the case with many Czech composers, Josef Bohuslav Foerster (1859-1951) was part of a musical dynasty. His earliest training came from his father, Josef (1833–1907), organist of Prague Cathedral from 1887 to 1907. Josef Bohuslav followed in his father’s footsteps and trained at the Prague Organ School after which he had appointments as organist and choirmaster in a number of Prague’s churches. In 1893 he moved with his wife, the soprano Berta Lauterová (1869–1936), to Hamburg where she had been engaged at the Stadttheater.
Here Foerster made his living largely as a music critic and piano teacher, both of which occupations continued when he and his wife, appointed by Mahler to the court opera, moved to Vienna in 1903. While in Vienna, composition teaching became central to his musical life, an activity he continued when he and his wife returned to Prague in 1918.
As one of the major teachers in the Conservatory in Prague, Foerster influenced many of the significant composers in the succeeding generation. Foerster’s standing was such that a society was founded in his name on his 60th birthday in 1919 dedicated to the performance of his music and after his death two important ensembles, the Foerster Wind Quintet and the Foerster Piano Trio, founded in 1955 and 1956 respectively, were named after him.
As both writer and composer, Foerster was enormously productive with his musical works running to nearly 200 opus numbers. His voluminous writing included not only criticism and musical studies, but two fascinating autobiographies. Foerster’s main interest as a composer was in vocal and choral music. His melodic style is warmly late-Romantic and shows the influence of Fibich. Although he disliked Italian verismo, he pioneered the realist Czech village drama in his first opera, Debora (1893). His setting of a Preissová’s story in his opera Eva (1899) was completed well before Janácek’s Jenufa based on a text by the same realist author. His finest operas, which include, Jessica (1905), a comic treatment of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, are attractively melodic and often show considerable dramatic flair.
Alongside his large number of songs and choruses is one of the largest collections of melodramas, in which text is recited over music, in the Czech repertoire. His orchestral music includes programme music, concertos and symphonies, the latter occasionally showing affinities with the music of his friend Mahler.
Profile © Jan Smaczny
Josef Bohuslav Foerster Biography (Wikipedia)
Josef Bohuslav Foerster (30 December 1859 – 29 May 1951) was a Czech composer of classical music and musicologist. He is often referred to as J. B. Foerster, and his surname is sometimes spelled Förster.
Josef Bohuslav Foerster Tracks