(b Niederstaina, Saxony, 26 Jan 1748; d Vienna, 12 Nov 1823). Austrian composer and teacher. Between 1766 and 1768 he served as a bandsman in the Prussian army. In 1768 he settled in Mittelwalde (now Mezibor), northern Bohemia, where he composed his first work, a set of variations in G minor, in 1769. He dedicated many of his simple divertimentos and keyboard concertos that were written between 1772 and 1774 to one Constanzia Genedl. Förster may have visited Vienna as early as 1776, and settled there permanently as a freelance artist during the 1780s. He became acquainted with Haydn, Mozart, and subsequently Beethoven, who recommended him highly as a composition teacher and whose op.18 may well have been influenced by Förster's quartets.
Förster’s main achievements are his piano sonatas and his chamber music. His early keyboard works show his attempts to assimilate the pre-Classical style and Empfindsamkeit of (especially) C.P.E. Bach; he revealed himself as a mature composer with an individual style in the op.5 flute sonatas, the op.7 quartets and the op.12 piano sonatas. Many of his later piano sonatas are highly imaginative and original compositions, though the piano writing is sometimes awkward. The quartets and quintets are similarly often powerful and dramatic, and a few of the later unpublished quartets and sonatas are quite experimental harbingers of Romanticism. Mozart’s works of the late 1780s, especially those in the minor mode, such as the C minor Fantasy k475 and Sonata k457 (which Förster arranged for string quintet), the G minor Quintet k516, and the G minor Symphony k550, and Haydn's opp.76–7 quartets were Förster's main points of departure. He was also a pioneer in composing large chamber ensembles for piano, strings and wind; the piano quartets feature the opposition of the keyboard to the string trio and quite elaborate viola writing. Förster was an important link between the mature styles of Mozart and Haydn and the early works of Beethoven, and his experiments with form and tonality helped to undermine the equilibrium of the High Classic period.
Förster's music enjoyed at best a succès d'estime. He had to publish much of his music at his own expense, and his only musical works published after 1804 were illustrations (mostly preludes and fugues) to later editions of his Anleitung zum General-Bass (Leipzig, 1805), and contributions to such collective publications as In questa tomba oscura (Vienna, 1808) and the Diabelli Variations of 1823. Only a few of his works are available in modern editions.
unless otherwise indicated, all works without publication details are in manuscript in A-Wn, and all printed works were published in Vienna; for spurious works see Longyear (1975)
Edition: E.A. Förster: 2 Quartetten, 3 Quintetten, ed. K. Weigl, DTÖ, lxvii, Jg.xxv/1 (1928) [incl. thematic index of chamber music] [W]
Sonatas: 6, 1774; 6 Easy Sonatas, c1780; 2, F, E, with 10 variations on theme from G. Sarti: I finti eredi (n.p., ?1788) [cf kAnh.C.26.06], also sonatas only as op.13 (1802); 2, G, D [op.1] (1788), also as op.12 (1796); 2, A [variations on theme from V. Martín y Soler: Una cosa rara], E [op.2] (1788); 6, opp.1–2, c1791; 3 as op.15 (1801); 3 as op.17 (1798); 3 as op.22 (1802–?3); 1 for pf 4 hands, op.23 (1802); Fantasy and Sonata, op.25 (1803); 6 Easy Sonatas, op.26 (1803); 3, E, C, d, c1805
Other: Variations, g, 1769; 2 divertissements de clavessin, 1771; Pièces de clavessin, 2 sets, c1771; 3 divertimentos, c1774; 2 pf duets, c1780; 7 variations on theme of Mozart (Speyer, 1788) [with Mozart's variations k374b/360]; Rondo no.1 (1789), no.2 (1791); Ländlerische (c1790), lost; 12 tedeschi (c1790), lost; 8 variations, A (Heilbronn and Vienna, c1792); Variations on theme from V. Martín y Soler: Una cosa rara (Offenbach, 1794); miscellaneous toccatas and fugues, c1803; Capriccio on theme of Diabelli, in Vaterländischer Künstlerverein, ii (1823); Fugue, g (c1825); 10 variations, A (n.p., n.d.); cadenzas for Mozart's pf concs. k271, k413, k416
Vocal: Kantate auf die Huldigungs-Feyer Sr … Majestät Franz als Erzherzog von Oesterreich (Vienna and Linz, 1792); 12 neue deutsche Lieder, op.13 (Vienna, 1798); In questa tomba oscura (G. Carpani), song, in In questa tomba oscura (1808); Er machte Frieden (Claudius), song, 1v, kbd (Vienna, ?c1825)
Orch: several pf concs., 1774–?85 incl. 3 with complete instrumentation, A-Wn, Wgm; Notturno concertante no.1 (Augsburg, c1797)
Pedagogical: Anleitung zum General-Bass (Leipzig, 1805, enlarged 2/1823, 3/1840); Praktische Beyspiele als Fortsetzung zu seiner Anleitung, i–iii (1818); 30 Praeludien, org/pf, als Fortsetzung der praktischen Beispiele (1830); 30 Fughetten, org/pf, als Fortsetzung der praktischen Beispiele (1830); 4 Fugen, org/pf, als Fortsetzung der praktischen Beispiele (1830); 50 Präludien, pf (Prague, after 1828)
Arrs.: J.S. Bach: Das wohltemperirte Clavier for str qt, c1780; W.A. Mozart: Fantasy and Sonata in c for str qnt, c1803, and Sym. no.41 k551 for 2 pf (1803)
A.Hackel: ‘Erinnerungen II: Über Emanuel Alois Förster’, Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitung, ii (1842), 493 only
K.Weigl: ‘E.A. Förster’, SIMG, vi (1904–5), 274–314
R.M.Longyear: ‘Echte und unterschobene Försteriana’, Mf, xxviii (1975), 297–9
R.M.Longyear: ‘Klassik und Romantik in E.A. Försters Nachlass’, Musicologica austriaca, ii (1978),108–16
D.Edge: ‘Recent Discoveries in Viennese Copies of Mozart's Concertos’, Mozart's Piano Concertos, ed. N. Zaslaw (Ann Arbor, 1996), 51–65