Faà di Bruno, Giovanni Matteo [Horatio, Orazio] 83

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Foerster, Anton

(b Osenice, nr Jičín, 20 Dec 1837; d Novo Mesto, Slovenia, 17 June 1926). Slovenian composer of Czech birth, uncle of Josef Bohuslav Foerster. He studied law and music in Prague (including work with Smetana) and was regens chori at Senj Cathedral, 1865–7. From 1867 he worked in Ljubljana, holding the post of conductor of the dramatic society (1868–1909) among others. One of the most important Romantic composers in Slovenia during the second half of the 19th century, he strove in his secular compositions to found a national style of Slovenian music. The Slovenian spirit is particularly evident in his lyrical comic opera Gorenjski slavček (‘The Nightingale of Upper Carniola’). In three acts, to a libretto by E.F. Züngl after L. Pesjak and given in Ljubljana on 13 December 1896, it was originally composed as an operetta (Ljubljana, 17 April 1872). In this work Foerster tried to compose a national opera with an authentic Slovenian melodic idiom, taking as his model Smetana's Bartered Bride; The Nightingale has become a standard work of the Slovenian repertory. He also wrote a five-act opera, Dom in rod (‘Home and Family’, 1920–23), to a libretto by F. Göstl and F. Mohorič; it has not been performed. Among his other compositions are sacred works (mass settings in Latin, two in Slovene and a Glagolitic Mass), secular choral works and pieces for piano and for orchestra.


Foerster, Christoph.

See Förster, christoph.

Foerster [Förster], Josef

(b Osenice, nr Jičín, Bohemia, 22 Feb 1833; d Prague, 3 Jan 1907). Czech teacher, organist and composer, father ofJosef Bohuslav Foerster. He was born into an old Bohemian cantor family and continued the tradition by studying in Prague as a teacher (1849–51) and at the organ school. After being employed as an organist in Vyšší Brod, he returned to Prague and held appointments as organist and choirmaster, notably at St Mikuláš (1858–61), St Vojtěch (1863–88) and at Prague Cathedral (1887–1907). At the same time he was an active and influential teacher at the organ school (from 1857), the Teachers’ Institute (from 1863) and at the Prague Conservatory (1866–1904). His harmony manual, Nauka o harmonii, retained its usefulness for several decades. At St Vojtěch (where the organist at that time was Dvořák) he trained the choir to its leading position in Prague and performed large-scale masses with soloists from the Provisional Theatre. In 1873, however, he began performing a cappella Renaissance works. This change is reflected in his own compositions. With Lehner, Skuherský and Křížkovský he belongs among the leading figures of the church music reform movement in Bohemia and Moravia.


all printed works published in Prague

3 Requiem, chorus, orch: op.33 (c1880); op.34 (c1880); op.37 (c1890)

7 masses (chorus, orch, unless otherwise stated): male vv, op.20 (c1865); Sv. Vojtěch, op.31, in Cyril, i (1874), suppl. and ii (1875), suppl.; De beata, SA (optional TB), org, op.32 (1877); Sv. Metoděj, op.35, in Cyril, xi (1884), suppl.; Jubilaei solemnis Francisci Josephi I, SATB, org, op.36 (1898); Bohemica, op.38a (c1900); op.38b (c1900)

Other sacred vocal: Responsoria gregoriánská (n.d.); Sbory k sňatku [Choruses for a Wedding] (n.d.); Otec vlasti [Father of the Fatherland] (cant.); 2 TeD; 15 motets; other works

Org: Katolický varhaník [The Catholic Organist: Collection of Hymn Harmonizations, Preludes etc.], op.13 (1858); Dvě slavnostní předehry [2 Ceremonial Preludes], op.16 (n.d.); other works, MS


Praktický návod ku hře na varhany [Practical instruction in organ playing] (Prague, 1862)

Nauka o harmonii [A harmony manual] (Prague, 1887, 7/1937; Ger. trans., n.d.)


Josef Foerster: životopisný nástin’ [Foerster: a biographical sketch], Českoslovanský varhaník, i (1885), 9

K. Stecker: ‘Josef Foerster’, HR, ii (1909), 495–500

C. Sychra: ‘Jos. Foerstera st. “Missa solennis”’, Smetana, i (1911), 231–3

H. Doležil: ‘Josef Foerster’, Tempo [Prague], xii (1932–3), 209–12

C. Sychra: ‘Josef Foerster’, Cyril, lxix (1943), 49 [with list of works]


Foerster [Förster], Josef Bohuslav

(b Prague, 30 Dec 1859; d Vestec, nr Stará Boleslav, Bohemia, 29 May 1951). Czech composer, writer and teacher. Together with his contemporaries Janáček, Novák, Suk and Ostrčil, he led the development of Czech music from the nationalist trinity of Smetana, Dvořák and Fibich to the interwar avant garde.

1. Life.

Foerster came from an established musical family. His father, Josef Foerster (1833–1907), served as organist and choirmaster in the foremost Prague churches, as organist at St Vitus’s Cathedral, as a teacher at the Prague Organ School and, from the 1860s, as professor of theory at the Prague Conservatory. His uncle Antonín Foerster (1837–1926), a pupil of Smetana, was an organist, choirmaster and conductor who contributed much to the musical life of Ljubljana.

Foerster himself studied at the Prague Organ School (1879–82). He succeeded Dvořák as organist of St Vojtěch (1882–8) and was then choirmaster of Panna Marie Sněžná (1889–94). At the same time he taught singing in Prague secondary schools and, from 1884, wrote reviews for Národní listy. He was personally acquainted with Smetana and Dvořák, and was also on friendly terms with the poet Jan Neruda, Tchaikovsky and many other artistic figures. In 1888 he married the National Theatre soprano Berta Lautererová (1869–1936), and in 1893 moved with her to Hamburg when she was engaged by the Stadttheater. He worked there as a critic for the Neue Hamburger Zeitung, the Hamburger freie Presse and the Hamburger Nachrichten, and in 1901 was appointed piano teacher at the Hamburg Conservatory. He became a friend of Mahler, who, on his move from Hamburg to Vienna, engaged Lautererová for the Hofoper. Husband and wife moved in 1903 to Vienna, where Foerster became professor of composition at the New Conservatory and, from 1910, music critic for the influential daily Die Zeit.

On the formation of the Czech Republic in 1918 the couple returned to Prague and Foerster took appointments as professor of composition at the conservatory (1919–22). He then transferred to the master school (1922–31), also teaching music at the university (1920–36). His pupils included Jirák (in Vienna), Bořkovec and Karel Hába (at the Prague Conservatory), Řídký and Burian (at the conservatory master school), and Plavec (at Prague University), among a host of others. Many of these played leading parts in the interwar Czech avant garde, though Foerster’s teaching was never partisan. He received an honorary doctorate from Prague University in 1919, when the Foerstrova Společnost (‘Foerster Society’) was founded to promote his works. In addition, he was president of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Art (1931–9), and in 1945 he received the title National Artist. After Lautererová’s death in 1936 he married Olga Dostálová-Hilkenová and moved to Staré Strašnice, dividing his time between his home there and his summer residence in Vestec. He was granted a state funeral, starting from the National Theatre in Prague (5 June 1951).

2. Works.

Foerster’s artistic production was enormous. His extensive literary work includes essays and memoirs (which, like those of Janáček, are of high quality and value), verse (including his own texts for songs, choruses and operas) and criticism. He contributed to specialist journals – Dalibor, Hudební revue, Smetana, Hudba, Národní divadlo and Janáček’s Hudební listy – and to reviews of the arts, including Lumír, Lipa and Světozor. In some cases he used pseudonyms: ‘-ter’ for Národní listy, ‘Griffith’ for Den, and ‘Essex’ and ‘Felix Triste’ for Politik. While in Vienna, too, he made his mark in the Czech newspapers Vídeňský deník, Svědomí and Vídeňský národní kalendář. His criticism shows a sympathy with the late Romantics: Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler and the Czechs Smetana, Dvořák, Fibich and Ostrčil. His essays reveal a reflective intelligence and a wide knowledge of world literature. He was also a gifted graphic artist; his paintings and drawings, to which he devoted great attention throughout his life, show him as more than a passionate amateur.

Foerster wrote more than 190 works with opus numbers, and many of these consist of sets or cycles. The bulk is made up of vocal music, including 6 operas, over 350 songs, over 300 choral works and 26 melodramas. The inclination towards music for voices was the result of his constant and fundamental emphasis on the linking of word and sound, in which he saw an ideal medium for the fusion of thought and emotion.

The maturing of Foerster’s style may be dated to the period 1890–1910, most of which he spent in Hamburg and Vienna. In these two decades he produced nearly all his key works, these falling into six basic genres: choral music (the Devět sborů op.37 for male voices), operas (Eva), symphonic works (the Fourth Symphony), orchestral suites (Cyrano de Bergerac, Ze Shakespeara), songs, and pieces having a stylistic link with Czech pre-Classical music (the Wind Quintet in F major). The feature which unifies all of these is Foerster’s lyricism, which had been at first influenced by the Romanticism of Grieg and Fibich. Around 1890 his style became expressively subjective, and before World War I he moved slowly on to a meditative plane, projecting his philosophy of Christian humanism and love as a world principle.

Foerster’s musical language is restrained, conventional in harmony and structure. The central feature of his formal conception is a free polyphony in which the influence of organ playing is evident in his attempts to build a structure from complementary melodic voices. Melodic writing was for him a major preoccupation; his aim was a perfect melodic shape, and he achieved his best in his vocal music.

Forester’s first opera, Debora (1890–91), is a remarkable work, the earliest serious village drama in Czech opera (as opposed to the many village comedies beginning with Smetana’s Bartered Bride) and one that provides striking evidence of his abiding sympathy for minority groups such as Jews. His next opera, Eva (1895–7), continued the village-opera trend in an adaptation of Gabriela Preissová’s drama Gazdina roba (‘The Farm Mistress’), thus anticipating Janáček’s Jenůfa (based on Preissová’s next play) by several years. But whereas Janáček emphasized the folkloristic aspects, these are muted and regionally unspecific in Foerster. Above all, Foerster (unlike Janáček) turned Preissová’s prose into verse, with the result that Eva, in comparison to Jenůfa, has a much more conventional cut and structure. With its strong line in melancholy lyricism and well-drawn principal character, Eva scored a popular and critical success at its première and remained for nearly a century as a repertory opera in Bohemia. After Jessika (1905), a light-hearted adaptation of The Merchant of Venice, Foerster wrote three later operas, all of which explore an increasingly personal vein in which the psychological depiction of the main characters and their spiritual development are paramount.


(selective list)


all first performed at Prague, National Theatre



Debora (3, Mosenthal, J. Kvapil (i), after S.H. Mosenthal), 1890–91, 27 Jan 1893


Eva (3, Foerster, after G. Pressová: Gadzina roba [The Farm Mistress]), 1895–7, 1 Jan 1899


Jessika (3, J. Vrchlický, after W. Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice), 1902–4, 16 April 1905, with addl court scene, 1906


Nepřemožení [The Invincible Ones] (4, Foerster), 1906–17, 19 Dec 1918


Srdce [The Heart] (prol., 2, epilogue, 2, Foerster), 1921–2, 15 Nov 1923


Bloud [The Simpleton] (7 scenes, Foerster, after L.N. Tolstoy), 1935–6, 28 Feb 1936


Sacred: Stabat mater, op.56, chorus, orch, org, 1891–2; Glagolská mše [Glagolitic Mass], op.123, chorus, org, 1923; Missa in honorem S. Francisci Assisiensis, op.131, chorus, org, 1925–6; Missa in honorem Santissimae Trinitatis, op.170, chorus, org, 1940; Missa in honorem S. Adalberti, op.188, chorus, org, 1947

Cantatas: Hymnus andělů [Hymn of the Angels] (S. Čech), op.13, chorus, orch, 1889; Mrtvým bratřím [To the Dead Brothers] (Bible, Gehrok, J. Vrchlický, R. Tagore), op.108, solo vv, chorus, orch, 1918; 4 bohatýři [4 Heroes] (J.V. Sládek), op.117, 1913, orchd 1921; Svatý Václav [St Václav] (cant., A. Klášterský), op.140, solo vv, chorus, orch, org, 1928; Máj [May] (K.H. Mácha), op.159, Bar, spkr, male chorus, orch, 1936; Píseň bratra slunce [Song of Brother Sun] (St Francis, A. Vyskočil), op.173, Bar, male chorus, orch, 1944; Kantáta 1945 (M. Rafojová, B. Mathesius), S, Bar, male chorus, orch, 1943–5

Mixed choruses: Česká píseň [Czech Song] (J. Kvapil), op.30, 1890; Modlitba na moři [Prayer to the Sea] (M. von Strachwitz, V. Hornof), op.71, 1901; Skon [Passing] (H. Heine, trans. V.J. Novotný), op.77/1, chorus, pf, 1898; Gethsemane (16th century), op.121/4, 1900; Oblačný pták [Cloud Bird] (R. Krupička), op.134, 1927–8; Srdci mému [To my Heart] (K.H. Mácha), op.151b, chorus, pf/orch, 1936; 6 sborů [6 Choruses] (T. Shevchenko, J. Hora, R. Krupička, E. Stoklas), op.175, 1933–40

Female choruses: 2 ženské čtverozpěvy [2 Female Quartets] (J.V. Sládek), op.74, 1913; Posvěcení noci [Blessing of the Night] (F. Hebbel), op.87/1, chorus, pf/orch, 1910; Most vzdechů [Bridge of Sighs] (T. Hood, trans. Sládek), op.87/2, chorus, orch, 1911

Male choruses: 3 selské písně [3 Village Songs] (Sládek), op.19, 1889; 9 sborů [9 Choruses] (Sládek), op.37, 1894–7; Hymnus (Sládek), op.63/3, double chorus, 1907; Svatý Václave! [O St Václav!] (Sládek), op.86, 1910; [7] Mužské sbory [Male-Voice Choruses] (Sládek, Vrchlický), op.102, 1920–21; 12 sborů (Sládek), op.171, 1925–44

Melodramas: 3 jezdci [3 riders] (Vrchlický), op.21, 1889; Amarus (Vrchlický), op.30a, 1897; Carçamon (H.A. Beers, trans. Sládek), op.149a, 1942–3; Romance štědrovečerní [A Christmas Eve Romance] (J. Neruda), 1934; Kejklíř [The Juggler] (O. Fischer), op.176a, 1934, orchd 1949

Songs: Frühlings- und Herbstlieder (F. Gilm and others), op.11, 1896–8; 3 Lieder (folk text, K. Stieler, Vrchlický), op.24, 1890–95; Láska [Love] (G. Falke, trans. J. Theurer, K. Burian), op.46, 1899–1900; Démon láska [The Devil Love] (Vrchlický), op.81, 1909; Písně na slova Karla Hynka Máchy [Songs to the Words of Mácha], op.85, 1910; Milostné písně [Love-Songs] (Tagore), op.96, 1v, pf/orch, 1914; Čisté jitro [Pure Morning] (O. Březina, A. Sova, F.X. Šalda), op.107, 1v, orch, 1914–18; 2 motivy z Jana Nerudy, op.109a, 1911; 3 modlitby [3 Prayers] (M. Maeterlinck, P. Flemming, M. Lermontov), op.109b, 1897–1912; Kvetoucí magnolie [Flowering Magnolia] (V. Hálek), op.132, 1924; 6 písní [6 Songs] (A.S. Pushkin, trans. P. Křička), op.161, 1937; 6 písní (Sládek, J. Kvapil, Vrchlický), op.165a, 1941–2; U bran štěstí [At the Gates of Happiness] (Sládek), op.186, 1945; Písně červnových dnů [Songs of June Days] (Foerster, Shakespeare, Sládek), op.189, 1948


Orch: V horách [In the Mountains], suite, op.7, small orch, 1884; Sym. no.1, d, op.9, 1887–8, unpubd; Sym. no.2, F, op.29, 1892–3; Sym. no.3 ‘Život’ [Life], D, op.36, 1894; Mé mládí [My Youth], sym. poem, op.44, 1900; Sym. no.4 ‘Veliká noc’ [Easter], c, op.54, 1905; Cyrano de Bergerac, suite, op.55, 1903; Ze Shakespeara [From Shakespeare], suite, op.76, 1908–9; Legenda o štěstí [Legend of Happiness], op.83, 1909; Vn Conc. no.1, c, op.88, 1910–11; Jaro a touha [Spring and Longing], sym. poem, op.93, 1912; Vn Conc. no.2, d, op.104, 1925–6; Jičínská suita [Jičín Suite], op.124, 1923; Sym. no.5, d, op.141, 1924–9; Vc Conc., 1930; Capriccio, fl, small orch, op.183b, 1945–6

For 5–9 insts: Str Qnt, op.3, 1886; Wind Qnt, op.95, 1909; Pf Qnt, op.138, 1928; Nonet, op.147, 1931

Str qts: no.1, E, op.15, 1888; no.2, D, op.39, 1893; no.3, C, op.61, 1907–13; no.4, F, op.182, 1944; no.5 ‘Vestecký’ [Vestec], F, 1951

Pf trios: no.1, f, op.8, 1883; no.2, B, op.38, 1894; no.3, a, op.105, 1919–21

Inst pieces for str: Sonata, b, op.10, vn, pf, 1889; Sonata no.1, op.45, vc, pf, 1898; Fantasie, op.128, vn, pf, 1925; Sonata no.2, op.130, vc, pf, 1926; Zbirožská suita [Zbiroh Suite], op.167, va, 1940; Sonata quasi fantasia, op.177, vn, 1943

Pf: Snění [Dreaming], op.47, 1898; Imprese, op.73, 1908–9; Erotovy masky [Erotic Masks], op.98, variations, 1912; Črty uhlem [Charcoal Sketches], op.136, 1926–8

Org: Fantasie, C, op.14, 1896; Impromptu, op.135, 1927

Principal publishers: Foerstrova Společnost, Hudební Matice, Universal, F.A. Urbánek, Mojmír Urbánek


Edvard Hagerup Grieg (Prague, 1890)

ed. J. Květ: Stůl života [The table of life] (Prague, 1920) [selected articles]

J.B. Foerster o Smetanovi (Prague, 1929) [selected reviews from Národní listy]

Poutník [The pilgrim]: i (Prague, 1929); ii: Poutníkovy cesty [The pilgrim’s journeys] (Prague, 1932); in one vol. (Prague, 1942; Ger. trans., 1955)

Zápisník hudebníkův [A musician’s notebook] (Prague, 1929) [selected articles from Dalibor]

Poutník v Hamburku [The pilgrim in Hamburg] (Prague, 1938, 2/1939)

Co život dal [What life gave] (Prague, 1942) [essays on art and music]

Dvě kapitoly pro zpěváky [Two chapters for singers] (Prague, 1945)

Poutník v cizině [The pilgrim abroad] (Prague, 1947)


OG (O. Pukl/E. Herrmanová) [incl. further bibliography]

Z. Nejedlý: Jos. B. Foerster (Prague, 1910)

J. Bartoš: Josef Bohuslav Foerster (Prague, 1923)

A. Rektorys, ed.: Památník Foerstrův [Foerster album] (Prague, 1929)

J. Bartoš, ed.: Zprávy Foerstrovy společnosti [Foerster Society news] (Prague, 1940–50)

F. Pala: ‘Josef Boh. Foerster’, České umění dramatické, ii: Zpěvohra, ed. J. Hutter and Z. Chalabala (Prague, 1941), 225–67

B. Štědroň: J.B. Foerster a Morava (Brno, 1947)

J. Seidel: Národní umélec Josef Bohuslav Foerster [National artist Foerster] (Prague, 1948)

J. Bartoš, P. Pražák and J. Plavec, eds.: J.B. Foerster: jeho životní pouť a tvorba, 1859–1949 [Foerster: his life and work, 1859–1949] (Prague, 1949) [incl. list of works, bibliography, discography]

J. Plavec: ‘Hrát či nehrát J.B. Foerstra?’ [To play or not to play Foerster?], HRo, vii (1954), 942–5

F. Pala: Josef Bohuslav Foerster (Prague, 1962)

J. Tyrrell: Czech Opera (Cambridge, 1988)

Z. Stavinohová: ‘Umělecké přátelství’ [Artistic friendship], OM, xxiii (1991), 56–8 [Foerster and O.F. Barber]

V. Karbusicky: ‘Salomon Mosenthals und J.B. Foersters “Deborah” und Gustav Mahlers Auferstehungssymphonie’, Kritische Musikästhetik und Wertungsforschung: Otto Kolleritsch zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. D. Leitinger (Vienna, 1996), 73–95

J. Gabrielová: ‘Opus magnum Josefa Bohuslava Foerstera: Milostné písně op.96 na slova Rabíndranátha Thákura’ [Love-Songs op.96 on words by Rabindranath Tagore], HV, xxxiv (1997), 267–86 [incl. Ger. summary]

V. Karbusický: ‘Co jsme dlužni Josefu Bohuslavu Foerstrovi’ [What we owe to Josef Bohuslav Foerster], HV, xxxv (1998), 3–45 [incl. Ger. summary]


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