Foerster, Adolphe Martin



American composer of note, who was born in Pittsburg and has lived there most of his life. In Mr. Foerster's case talent and opportunity came together at birth. His father was a gifted portrait painter, who had studied in the art centers of Germany, and who recognized and cultivated his son's talent along musical lines. Young Foerster was given every advantage. His earliest instruction he received from his mother, an amateur musician of much ability, and later he studied with Jean Manns of Pittsburg. He was next sent to Leipsic, and spent the years from 1872 to 1875 at the Conservatory there, studying piano under Coccius and Wenzel, singing under Grill and Adolph Schimon, and theory under E. F. Richter and Robert Papperitz. After he had finished his studies under these masters Mr. Foerster returned to the United States in 1875 and spent the next year in teaching at the Conservatory of Music at Fort Wayne, Ind., later returning to his native city, where he was conductor of the Symphonic Society, and, in 1883, director of the Musical Union and the Choral Society, which are no longer in existence. He has remained in that city ever since as teacher and composer and has been the instructor of many musicians, who have spread his reputation and influence throughout the country. He has also done an important work in the series of recitals he has given, bringing out many compositions of the highest grade. As a composer Mr. Foerster takes high rank, his works including orchestral and chamber-music, as well as works for solo instruments and voice. Among his more important works are the orchestral compositions, MarchFantasie, which was first given in Pittsburg under the composer's direction in 1879, and at Chicago under Fritz Scheel; Thusnelda, a symphonic poem for orchestra; The Falconer, a suite; a prelude to Goethe's Faust; a prize composition of the Art Society of Pittsburg in 1898; three dramatic arias, love song, Hero and Leander, and Verzweiflung-. for soprano and orchestra; a symphonic poem, Sigrid; and the Dedication March, written for the inauguration of Carnegie Music Hall in 1895, in which the theme begins with the founder's initials, A. C., as a tribute to the great philanthropist. Mr. Foerster's orchestral works have been frequently played in public by noted orchestras under Theodore Thomas, Anton Seidl, Walter Damrosch, Frederick Stock, Arthur Claassen and Asgar Hamerick. His Thusnelda was given by the orchestras of Theodore Thomas and of Carl Schroeder in Germany and under the composer's direction in Boston in 1886. The Festival March was given at the May Festival in 1891, and in New York under Seidl. His quartet op. 21) and trio (op. 29) have been frequently performed in Europe and the United States. Other chamber works are still in manuscript. Foerster has published many other compositions for piano, voice, violin and cello, and also part-songs. There is a marked preponderance of songs that proclaim an exalted standard. L. C. Elson has said that they are the best short songs that have yet been written by an American. The influence of Robert Franz, the renowned German composer, is traceable in his early songs, but better still he influenced Foerster's art-life. The correspondence of nearly two decades was bound to be felt and resulted in an earnestness of purpose that bore good fruit. As a tribute of regard, Foerster inscribed the Set (op. 6) to Franz. Probably the loftiest ideals will be found in the sets Among Flowers; Greek Love Song; Album of Lyrics; Garland of Songs; and Six Songs. In single songs are Tristan and Iseult; Hero and Leander; Fair Rosalind; Love's Philosophy; Evening in Greece; the Daisy; Shepherd's Lament; and Little Wild Rose. Among his piano compositions are Valse Caprice; Eros; Lamentation and Exultation; and Homage to Rubinstein. He has also written the sacred song, The Messiah; Lord is King; and an Ave Maria. For the organ his In Memoriam, written in commemoration of his mother, is an important contribution.