JOSEF BOHUSLAV FOERSTER (1859 - 1951)
Josef Bohuslav Foerster was born in Prague in 1859. He studied at the Prague Organ School, and upon graduation he was appointed organist at St Vojtĕch Church, taking over the post from no less a figure than Antonín Dvořák. In these years Foerster also had close contact with Bedřich Smetana, and received encouragement from Tchaikovsky and others. In 1888 he married the famous Czech soprano Berta Lauterer, and the couple eventually moved to Hamburg. It was here that Foerster met Gustav Mahler, a fellow German-speaking Bohemian, and the two became friends. The Foersters went with Mahler to Vienna in 1903, where they remained until they returned to Prague in 1918. By the time of his death, at the age of 91, Foerster had become the grand old man of Czech music, teaching many important young composers. In all this time he also composed prolifically. His writing was influenced both by his close connection with music for the church, including a complete mastery of Palestrina-style counterpoint, and by his love of the theatre. Music, and all art, was for Foerster an expression of the beauty of the human soul.